Ebola nurse is given blood of a survivor and new drug
The British nurse who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone has agreed to be treated with an experimental anti-viral drug and blood from a survivor of the virus, her doctor has said.
Pauline Cafferkey, a public health nurse in South Lanarkshire, is receiving specialist treatment via a quarantine tent at the Royal Free Hospital in London after initially flying home from Heathrow to Glasgow.
Dr Michael Jacobs said Ms Cafferkey was being treated with convalescent plasma taken from the blood of a recovered patient and an experimental anti-viral drug which is "not proven to work".
But he revealed the hospital was unable to obtain ZMapp, the drug used to treat fellow British volunteer nurse William Pooley, who recovered, because "there is none in the world at the moment".
Describing the patient's condition, Dr Jacobs said: "She is sitting up and talking. She is able to read. She's been eating a bit, drinking and she's been in communication with her family, which has been really nice. She's as well as we can hope for at this stage of the illness. She's had the treatment, it's gone very smoothly, no side-effects at all."
Dr Jacobs said the next few days were "critical" but Ms Cafferkey was in an early phase of the disease, which gave the hospital the "best opportunity to give her treatment".
"At the moment, we don't know what the best treatment strategies are," he said. "That's why we're calling them experimental treatments.
"As we've explained to Pauline, we can't be as confident as we would like. There's obviously very good reason to believe it's going to help her, otherwise we wouldn't be using it at all, but we simply don't have enough information to know that's the case."
Dr Jacobs said there were several stocks of plasma around Europe which would be considered in the treatment of Ms Cafferkey. She had been working with Save the Children at the Ebola Treatment Centre in Kerry Town, Sierra Leone.
"When the need arises, the various experts around Europe convene a conference, and decide the most appropriate plasma for the patient," he said.