The condition of Pauline Cafferkey, a Scottish nurse who returned from helping to fight the virus in Sierra Leone, gradually deteriorated over the past two days, the Royal Free Hospital said in statement on its website today. She had been sitting up in bed, talking and reading on Dec. 31 and had decided to take an anti-viral drug.
Cafferkey is a National Health Service nurse who was helping to fight the Ebola outbreak at a treatment center run by Save the Children in Kerry Town, Sierra Leone, according to the charity. More than 20,000 people have been infected in the world’s worst-ever Ebola outbreak, mostly in three African countries, according to the World Health Organization. Almost 8,000 have died. Medical workers in the U.S. and Spain have also been infected after caring for victims.
“My thoughts and prayers are with nurse Pauline Cafferkey,” U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said today in a Twitter posting.
Cafferkey arrived in Scotland late Dec. 28 and after feeling unwell was placed in isolation at Gartnavel General Hospital, before being moved to London. Health officials have said it’s unlikely that others were infected. Michael Jacobs, infectious diseases consultant at the London hospital, said in a Dec. 31 statement that the next few days would be crucial for Cafferkey. The disease has a variable course, he said at the time.