British Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey is in critical condition, having contracted the virus while volunteering in Sierra Leone. According to the Huffington Post, authorities at the Royal Free hospital in north London say that although Cafferkey was communicating with her family and even sitting up reading a few days ago, her condition has deteriorated, and her condition is critical.
During an appearance on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show, Prime Minister David Cameron praised the bravery of Cafferkey, who served with a team of 29 other medical volunteers during a November deployment by the UK government.
“It [Ebola] is certainly the thing uppermost in my mind with Pauline Cafferkey in hospital and all of us are thinking of her and her family … And also how incredibly brave these people are; not only doctors and nurses from our NHS but also people from our armed forces who have been working in west Africa in very difficult conditions.”
According to Dr. Michael Jacobs, the next few days will be crucial for Pauline. The Scottish public health nurse, who is employed at Blantyre Health Centre in South Lanarkshire, received an early diagnosis and is being cared for by Ebola experts, but knowledge of the virus and the effectiveness of various treatments remains limited.
Among the treatments Cafferkey is receiving are an experimental anti-viral drug that has “not been proven to work,” and treatment with plasma from an Ebola survivor.
Pauline, who had been working as part of a Save the Children team at the Ebola treatment center in Krry Town, flew back to Heathrow on December 28, 2014. Cafferkey’s temperature was checked seven times after she complained of feeling unwell, but she was given the go-ahead to fly to Glasgow.
A day later, Pauline Cafferkey was diagnosed with Ebola. She was immediately placed in isolation at Glasgow’s Gartnavel hospital campus, before being flown back to London for treatment. Her diagnosis has raised questions over whether the UK’s screening policies are overly lax.
Cameron said, “What I have said very clearly is we should have a precautionary principle in place.”
Five of 20 patients to be treated for Ebola outside west Africa have died from the disease, compared to a 40 percent mortality rate in West Africa, where more than 8,000 have died. Will Pooley, the first Briton to be stricken with the virus, recovered within a week of being treated at Royal Free hospital.
It’s difficult to say how the disease will progress for Pauline Cafferkey. Ian Crozier, a World Health Organization doctor who contracted Ebola, was near death before the virus changed course. He remained seriously ill for 40 days, before recovering and being discharged.
[Image of Pauline Cafferkey via The Huffington Post]