UK Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey has been readmitted for a third time to a special London hospital for treatment.

In October she was readmitted for a second time to a special hospital after the Ebola virus allegedly caused her to develop meningitis.

As far as I know, it was the first time ever meningitis was reported as a side effect of Ebola.

Now, she is back in a special hospital receiving Ebola treatment for a third time.

What is going on?

Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey transferred to Royal Free hospital

British woman returns for treatment for third time since contracting virus in Sierra Leone just over a year ago

Haroon Siddique
Tuesday 23 February 2016 14.48 GMT Last modified on Tuesday 23 February 2016 22.01 GMT

Pauline Cafferkey, the British nurse who contracted Ebola in west Africa in 2014 , is being transferred to the specialist unit at the Royal Free hospital in London for the third time since her return to the UK.

Cafferkey, 39, who is said to be in a stable condition, was initially admitted to Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University hospital and on Tuesday afternoon an RAF aircraft landed at Glasgow airport to transport her to London.

A spokesman for the Royal Free said: “We can confirm that Pauline Cafferkey is being transferred to the Royal Free hospital due to a late complication from her previous infection by the Ebola virus. She will now be treated by the hospital’s infectious diseases team under nationally agreed guidelines.

“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 and the NHS has well-established and practised infection control procedures in place.”

Cafferkey, 39, was infected while working with victims of the virus in Sierra Leone in December 2014. She spent almost a month in an isolation unit at the Royal Free, where she was treated with a survivor’s plasma and an experimental antiviral drug.

She fell ill again in October last year and was readmitted to the same hospital with meningitis caused by the lingering virus. After coming close to dying, she was discharged in November and transferred to Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University hospital to continue her recovery before returning home.

The reappearance of the Ebola virus in Cafferkey’s brain causing meningitis in October was described as unprecedented. Jonathan Ball, a professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham, said it was the first case he knew of where Ebola had been associated with life-threatening complications so many months after an initial recovery.

Dr Derek Gatherer, a lecturer in biomedical and life sciences at Lancaster University, said it was clear that Ebola was a more complex disease than previously thought, with the most serious complication for survivors being meningitis.

“The other main rare serious complication is inflammation of the eyes (conjunctivitis and/or uveitis), which can lead to blindness, especially if supportive treatments are unavailable,” he said. “The major post-recovery complications are joint aches, headaches and general tiredness, which can last for months. Up to half of Ebola survivors will have some or several of this milder range of symptoms.”

Cafferkey’s latest hospital admission could mean people with whom she has been in hospital may be offered vaccination against the Ebola virus, as happened after her previous stay.

There is no no approved vaccine or treatment for Ebola but last month the Gavi alliance for vaccines and immunisation signed a $5m (£3.5m) deal to buy a vaccine being developed by Merck. Initial results from a clinical trial in Guinea, which tested the vaccine on 4,000 people who had been in close contact with a confirmed Ebola case, showed complete protection after 10 days.

Last month the World Health Organisation declared that west Africa was free of the virus after a two-year epidemic that killed more than 11,300 people. But the announcement coincided with the death of a woman from the disease in Sierra Leone, who was feared to have exposed others.

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