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Undated handout photo of Pauline Cafferkey

Undated handout photo of Pauline Cafferkey

Undated handout photo of Pauline Cafferkey

Undated handout photo of Pauline Cafferkey

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Undated handout photo of Pauline Cafferkey

A nurse being treated for Ebola in London could be given blood donations from fellow survivors including volunteer Will Pooley in a bid to overcome the deadly virus, the British government's chief medical officer said.

Pauline Cafferkey, a public health nurse at Blantyre Health Centre in South Lanarkshire, is receiving specialist treatment via a quarantine tent at the Royal Free Hospital in north London.

Chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said the experimental drug ZMapp, which was used to treat Mr Pooley, the nurse who was the first UK citizen to contract the disease, is "not available at the moment".

Among options of alternative treatment she said: "We do have available a small amount of convalescent plasma. Plasma is the liquid of blood and convalescent is the recovery phase.

"Will Pooley gave a donation of the plasma and the theory is as we fight off infections we make anti-bodies and if you harvest the plasma you get a source of antibodies that you can put in to someone and you'd expect it to work.

"But the cornerstone of treatment remains fluid and electrolyte treatment."

She said the course of treatment would be discussed privately between the 39-year-old patient and her clinician.

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon said last night Mrs Cafferkey is "doing as well as can be expected".

The nurse, from Glasgow, was part of a 30-strong team of medical volunteers deployed to Africa by the UK Government last month and had been working with Save the Children at the Ebola Treatment Centre in Kerry Town, Sierra Leone.

She was initially placed in isolation at a Glasgow hospital early yesterday after feeling feverish, before being transferred south on an RAF C-130 Hercules plane.

symptoms

The healthcare worker had flown from Sierra Leone via Morocco to Heathrow Airport where she was considered a high risk because of the nature of her work and showed no symptoms during screening.

While waiting for a connecting flight to Glasgow she raised fears about her temperature and was tested a further six times.

But after being given the all clear she flew on to Scotland and took a taxi to her home where she later developed a fever and raised the alarm.

Dame Sally Davies said questions have been raised about the airport screening procedure but insisted the screening was designed to raise public awareness about the virus and was not expected to detect every case of Ebola.

She said: "She was cleared to travel because she didn't have Ebola symptoms including a raised temperature.

"It does raise a question whether we should be more precautionary. The risk of raised temperature when she came back appears to have been very low.

"That's why we look at what we do all the time to see should we have been more precautionary, is it in the public's interest? Is it in the patient's interest?

"I doubt it would have made much difference."

Meanwhile, Health Minister Leo Varadkar responded to the case of the Ebola virus in Scotland by saying he isn't aware of any Irish people that came into contact with her.

"We don't believe there is any immediate threat or any immediate danger here in Ireland but we are of course in contact on a daily basis with the British and European authorities," he said.

hnews@herald.ie


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