U.K. Nurse Recovers From Ebola

By Peter Russell
WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

Jan. 26, 2015 -- Pauline Cafferkey, the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United Kingdom, has been discharged from a hospital in London after making a full recovery.

The Scottish nurse, who caught the disease while working at a treatment center in Kerry Town, Sierra Leone, said she was "just happy to be alive."

"I still don't feel 100%," she said. "I feel quite weak, but I'm looking forward to going home. I want to say a big thank you to the staff who treated me -- they were amazing. They were always very reassuring, and I knew I was in the best hands. They saved my life."

Cafferkey was diagnosed with Ebola on Dec. 29 after flying home to Glasgow via London. She told staff at London's Heathrow Airport that she felt unwell -- but she was cleared for her onward flight after her temperature was taken seven times.

Soon afterward she fell ill and was admitted to the Brownlee Unit for Infectious Diseases at Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow. On Dec. 30, she was transferred to the high-level isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London, where she was in critical condition for some time. On Saturday, the hospital announced she'd been allowed to leave and was free of the virus.

'Courageous and Selfless'

Cafferkey is the second Briton to recover from Ebola during the current outbreak. Last year volunteer nurse William Pooley was treated in the same unit at the Royal Free Hospital after also getting infected while working in Sierra Leone.

Both health care workers were treated by Michael Jacobs, PhD, an infectious diseases consultant at the Royal Free. Pooley received the experimental drug ZMapp. Cafferkey was reportedly treated with an alternative antiviral drug called ZMabb, because supplies of ZMapp had run out.

Jacobs said in a statement: "We are delighted that Pauline has recovered and is now well enough to go home. I am very proud of the staff who have been caring for her. It is because of the skill and hard work of the entire team that she is now able to go home."

U.K. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt tweeted that he, too, was delighted Cafferkey had been discharged. He described her as a "courageous and selfless lady who has made [the] NHS and Britain proud." He also praised Jacobs and his team for their "dedication and 1st class care."

The number of Ebola cases in three West African countries hardest hit by the virus continues to fall. The WHO says the latest figures show 710 confirmed cases reported in the previous 3 weeks in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, compared with a peak of 3,606 confirmed cases in September of last year.

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SOURCES: Royal Free Hospital. Twitter. The Scotsman. World Health Organization.

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