Pauline Cafferkey, a Scottish nurse reported Ebola 14 months back and was admitted third time at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth university hospital. After back and forth trips to the hospital for 14 months, the patient has been hit by the original Ebola virus again.
“This is the original Ebola virus that she had many months ago which has been inside the brain, replicating at a very low level probably, and which has now re-emerged to cause this clinical illness of meningitis,” Dr. Micheal Jacobs, an infectious disease specialist at London said.
A Scottish nurse who contracted Ebola 14 months ago has been hospitalized for a third time.
Pauline Cafferkey was admitted to Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital “for further investigations,” the hospital said in a statement Tuesday.
It did not specify why Cafferkey was admitted, nor when. But the nurse is “under routine monitoring by the Infectious Diseases Unit,” the hospital said.
“To protect patient confidentiality, we will not be publishing regular updates on this patient’s condition,” it said.
Cafferkey contracted Ebola while working in Sierra Leone in December 2014.
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She didn’t learn that her own life was at risk until she fell ill shortly after returning to the UK. Cafferkey was diagnosed with Ebola and was moved for intensive treatment to the Royal Free Hospital, which has an isolation unit with a tent with controlled ventilation set up over the patient’s bed.
At one point during that initial stay, the London hospital said that Cafferkey’s condition had “gradually deteriorated over … two days” and that she was then in critical condition.
She managed to rebound, and weeks later she went home.
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But last October, Cafferkey didn’t feel well and was admitted to Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.
UK health officials said then that Cafferkey was suffering from “an unusual late complication” of her Ebola infection. She was later sent back to the Royal Free Hospital, where her condition worsened.
Dr. Michael Jacobs, a specialist in infectious diseases at that London hospital, later clarified that Cafferkey hadn’t suffered a relapse of Ebola.
“This is the original Ebola virus that she had many months ago which has been inside the brain, replicating at a very low level probably, and which has now re-emerged to cause this clinical illness of meningitis,” Jacobs said.
The Scottish nurse was originally infected while working in Save the Children’s treatment facility in Kerry Town, Sierra Leone in December 2014.
She was discharged in January 2015 after making a recovery at the Royal Free but fell ill again in October last year and was treated at the same hospital for meningitis caused by Ebola.
Forty people were offered vaccinations after she was found to have fallen ill again with her family claiming doctors ‘missed a big opportunity’ to spot it.
After being re-admitted to the Royal Free she was treated with the experimental drug GS5734.
At one point the Scottish nurse was described as ‘critically ill’ and doctors found the virus was persisting in tissues in her brain.
But she was released in November and transferred to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, in Glasgow, to continue her recovery and later returned home.