Scottish nurse Pauline Cafferkey, who was cleared of the dreaded Ebola infection, was admitted to a London hospital from an “unusual late complication” of the virus. Her condition has been listed as serious and she is being held in isolation.
Pauline Cafferkey, a Scottish nurse, who was said to have made a complete recovery from an Ebola infection last year, fell ill again. She was flown from Scotland to Royal Free Hospital in London. Preliminary investigations reveal she developed a late reactivation of the Ebola virus. Though it is quite rare, Ebola virus can stay dormant in the humans for weeks or even months at a time and reactivate itself, causing serious complications in the body. Issuing a statement about Cafferkey’s condition, Royal Free Hospital said the following.
“We can confirm that Pauline Cafferkey was transferred from the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow to the Royal Free London hospital in the early hours of this morning due to an unusual late complication of her previous infection by the Ebola virus.”
Explaining her condition, Ben Neuman, a virologist at the University of Reading, said the following.
“Cafferkey’s case appears unusual because of the stubborn persistence of the Ebola virus in her body. In a similar case detected in an American doctor, Ebola was found in his left eye months after he recovered.”
The hospital authorities have assured the public that there is minimal risk of the Ebola virus spreading. The officials say the chances of Cafferkey unwittingly transmitting the virus is quite low, however public health officials in Scotland have been alerted and they have begun to monitor the people with whom Cafferkey had close contact.
Dr. Emilia Crighton, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde director of Public Health, further added that the Ebola infection found in Pauline Cafferkey isn’t new. She clarified that though the nurse was given a clean bill of health, the sneaky Ebola virus somehow managed to stay undetected and remained in hibernation. Cafferkey had contracted the virus in December 2014 and it’s this infection that is now resurging and causing her to experience the symptoms. As such, the risk of Cafferkey contracting Ebola in Sctoland or England is next to nil, assured Crighton.
“The risk to the public is very low. In line with normal procedures in cases such as this, we have identified a small number of close contacts of Pauline’s that we will be following up as a precaution.”
Though Ebola can remain dorma, and fluid inside the eyeball.
Hence, the only way Ebola can be transmitted is by having physical contact or intimate relations with the one who is showing symptoms of contracting the Ebola virus, continued the statement.
“The Ebola virus can only be transmitted by direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person while they are symptomatic, so the risk to the general public remains low and the NHS has well-established and practiced infection control procedures in place.”
After being confirmed to be infection free, Pauline Cafferkey had resumed her job as a public health nurse at Blantyre Health Centre in March. Routine follow up, too, did not show any Ebola symptoms, confirmed an NHS spokesperson, reported the Scotsman. Incidentally, Cafferkey was quite fine till the beginning of this month, confirmed the hospital.
However, fearing she might not be well, Cafferkey went to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow. Hospital authorities confirmed she was able to get there herself. Thereafter, her condition deteriorated and she was transferred to the Royal Free Hospital. The hospital hasn’t released any more information.
Pauline Cafferkey had contracted the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone last December. However, she was fully treated at the Royal Free for several weeks and discharged in January, reported MSN.
[Image Credit | Sean Gallup, WPA Pool / Getty Images, Lisa Ferguson via The Scotsman]