British Nurse with Ebola Virus Remains in Critical Condition but has ‘Stabilized’
By Glynn Cosker
Editor, In Homeland Security
Ebola virus patient Pauline Cafferkey remains in critical condition in a London hospital. However, British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the House of Commons that Cafferkey’s “condition has deteriorated to a critical state, although she stabilized yesterday and continues to receive the best possible care.”
Cafferkey, 39, returned to the U.K. Dec. 28 after a six-week stint in Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone. The health worker traveled to London via Casablanca and was screened in each airport she encountered.
Once inside London’s Heathrow, Cafferkey stated she fell unwell and asked that her temperature be taken. It was subsequently taken six times within a 30-minutes span prior to her flight from London to her home city of Glasgow, Scotland. Each time, her body temperature fell within the permitted range, so she was allowed to board her flight home.
Once in her Glasgow home, Cafferkey became feverish and alerted health officials. Soon after, she tested positive for the Ebola virus and was rushed to London’s Royal Free hospital. She is the first person diagnosed with the disease on British soil.
Some in the U.K. questioned the current airport screening procedures. Hunt addressed those concerns in his statement to British lawmakers.
“Some have asked whether it was appropriate for her to be allowed to travel onto Glasgow after she raised concerns about her health at Heathrow,” stated Hunt. “The clinical advice on this is clear: You can only contract Ebola by coming into contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person — that means blood, vomit or diarrhea — which becomes a risk when a patient is exhibiting feverish symptoms.”
That said, every passenger who accompanied Cafferkey on her domestic flight from London to Glasgow was contacted and told to monitor their body temperature for the next three weeks. Any passenger displaying possible Ebola symptoms were urged to immediately contact the British National Health Service (NHS.)
The current Ebola outbreak death toll stands at 8,153. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that the survival rate is around 50 percent. The next few days are critical for Cafferkey, who received blood transfused using plasma from Ebola survivors and is undergoing an experimental antiviral drug treatment.
Save the Children, the charity for which Cafferkey worked in Sierra Leone has vowed that “no stone will be left unturned” as they look into how the Scottish nurse was infected with the Ebola virus.
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