Ebola patient worked on Island
A health worker who this week became the first person on British soil to have Ebola diagnosed also served for a number of years as a nurse in Bermuda.
Ebola, which has claimed nearly 7,000 lives in West Africa, infected more than 20,000 people over the course of 2014. The present outbreak is the worst epidemic of the virus yet seen.
Scottish nurse Pauline Cafferkey, a National Health Service worker, had been helping to treat the disease in Sierra Leone, where she travelled with a team from the group Save the Children.
She had flown back to Glasgow last Sunday aboard a British Airways flight and subsequently developed symptoms of the disease, which typically begin with sudden fever, headache, fatigue and a sore throat.
Ebola was diagnosed on Monday and Ms Cafferkey is now being treated in a secure unit in London’s Royal Free Hospital. According to Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, Ms Cafferkey was doing “as well as can be expected”.
Once her photograph appeared in world media, old friends of Ms Cafferkey recognised her face.
The Bermuda Hospitals Board has confirmed that a Pauline Cafferkey had worked as a nurse in King Edward VII Memorial Hospital’s Cooper Ward from September 2005 to February 2007. A friend of Ms Cafferkey from her time on the Island said: “I first met Pauline way back in 2006 through rugby and she was one of the first friends I made in Bermuda.
“I remember her to be loads of fun and very happy go lucky.”
During her time in Bermuda, Ms Cafferkey played for Mariners.
Ebola is a dangerous virus spread by direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, or by contact with a recently contaminated surface. A variety of factors have hampered international efforts to contain the epidemic, which has hit the West African nations of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea worst of all.
Although no specific treatment or vaccine has been developed, BBC News reported that Ms Cafferkey is being given blood plasma from British nurse William Pooley, who has recovered from the virus and whose antibodies may help to combat the infection.
A small number of infected persons have inadvertently carried the virus by travelling out of Africa. It can take up to 21 days for symptoms of the disease to show.
Bermuda has adopted its own health screening policy for persons arriving from Ebola-affected countries, with officials at LF Wade International Airport screening arriving passengers and checking their travel history.