After the alarming news from Haiti (see below), a little good news from the UK. Via The Guardian: Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey returns to Glasgow.
Pauline Cafferkey, the nurse treated in London for life-threatening complications months after she was apparently cured of Ebola, has been released from isolation and has returned to hospital in Glasgow.
Cafferkey became critically ill from meningitis triggered by a hidden reservoir of Ebola virus in her nervous system. The sudden onset of illness, which resulted in her being flown back to the infectious diseases unit of the Royal Free hospital in London which treated her on her return from Sierra Leone, shocked doctors. Until then, it was not understood that the Ebola virus could linger and cause disease nine months later.
The Royal Free said Cafferkey had made a full recovery and was no longer infectious. “We are delighted that Pauline has made a full recovery from Ebola and is now well enough to return to Scotland,” said a spokesperson. “We would like to wish her well for the future.”
In a statement before flying back to Scotland, Cafferkey expressed her gratitude to the hospital for saving her life a second time. “I am forever thankful for the amazing care I have received at the Royal Free Hospital,” she said. “For a second time, staff across many departments of the hospital have worked incredibly hard to help me recover and I will always be grateful to them and the NHS. I am looking forward to returning to Scotland and to seeing my family and friends again.”
At the time of Cafferkey’s meningitis diagnosis, Jonathan Ball, a professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham, called it “frankly staggering”. He said: “I am not aware from the scientific literature of a case where Ebola has been associated with what we can only assume as life-threatening complications after someone has initially recovered, and certainly not so many months after.”
Dr Michael Jacobs, who treated Cafferkey at the Royal Free, described the situation as unprecedented. The World Health Organisation said she was the only known Ebola survivor to develop meningitis months later.
Cafferkey was treated with the experimental drug GS5734. Jacobs, infectious diseases consultant at the hospital, told a press conference in October: “This is the original Ebola virus she had many months ago which has been inside the brain, replicating at a very low level, and has now re-emerged to cause this clinical illness of meningitis. This is an unprecedented situation.”
Cafferkey’s relapse caused alarm and more than 40 of her contacts were offered vaccination against Ebola virus.