A SCOTTISH nurse previously treated for the deadly Ebola virus is in a serious condition in hospital after falling ill again.
Pauline Cafferkey, 39, of Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire, was transferred by military aircraft to an isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London early on Friday morning after “an unusual late complication” of the virus.
She contracted Ebola last December while in Sierra Leone and spent almost a month in isolation at the beginning of the year. On Tuesday, she was admitted to a Glasgow hospital after feeling unwell.
Last night a Royal Free spokeswoman said Ms Cafferkey’s condition was serious and there would be no further updates unless that changed.
Officials have moved to reassure the public that there is little risk of contagion, after it emerged the nurse had visited Mossneuk Primary School in East Kilbride in the days before falling ill, and the Pride of Britain Awards, where she was honoured for her aid work.
Dr Ben Neuman, a virologist from the University of Reading, said Ms Cafferkey had a good chance of overcoming the virus again. He said: “The odds are that she has actually inherited a lucky set of genes and these are probably what protected her the first time and probably what will keep her safe the second time.”
Ebola has been shown to stay for months in parts of the body and in bodily fluids, even after a person appears to have made a full recovery.
Dr Emilia Crighton, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde director of public health, said this was not a new infection as Ms Cafferkey had contracted the virus in December 2014.
Ms Cafferkey returned to work as a public health nurse at Blantyre Health Centre in March. She is reported to have been well when she was last at work on 1 October.
She went to Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital on Tuesday after falling ill.
The Royal Free said: “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 Friday morning due to an unusual late complication of her previous infection by the Ebola virus.
“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.”