3 Sep 2014

British Ebola nurse released from UK hospital

Health and Social Care Editor

The first Briton to catch the Ebola virus during the current outbreak in west Africa says he feared he was going to die as he leaves the London hospital where he was treated.

William Pooley, 29, a volunteer nurse from Eyke, Suffolk, was flown back to the UK for treatment on 24 August after contracting the virus in Sierra Leone and has made a full recovery.

He was cared for in an isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital in north London, from where he was discharged on Wednesday.

At a news conference, he praised the “world-class care” he had received at the hospital – “a world away” from what was available to ebola sufferers in Africa – and thanked the government and RAF for getting him home so quickly.

He said he had feared for his life after being diagnosed with the virus and woken by doctors in protective clothing.

‘Worried I was going to die’

He said he had been “wonderfully lucky” and “was worried I was going to die”, adding that he had no plans to return to Africa. “They incinerated my passport, so my mum will be pleased to know I cannot go anywhere at the moment.”

The vast majority of people who contract Ebola die as a result. Mr Pooley was treated with the experimental ZMapp drug and poses no risk to members of the public.

He said his symptoms “never progressed to the worst stage of the disease – people I have seen dying horrible deaths”. He did not vomit, but suffered high temperatures and stomach problems.

Ebola vaccine trials begin

Trials have begun to test a vaccine designed to prevent Ebola, which has been developed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US and Britain's GlaxoSmithKline.

The trials in Maryland involve healthy adults who are not infected with Ebola and are designed to see if the vaccine is safe and generates an adequate immune response.

At the same time, America's National Institute of Health and Britain's Medical Research Council and Department for International Development have formed a consortium to test the vaccine on volunteers in the UK, Gambia and Mali.

More than 2,000 people have died in the recent outbreak, which began in Guinea in March and has since spread to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.

On Wednesday the World Health Organisation (WHO), said that more than forty per cent of the Ebola cases in west Africa have occurred in the last 21 days. According to the WHO there has been a fatality rate of 51 per cent overall: in Guinea 66 per cent of those who contracted the disease have died, as have 41 per cent in Sierra Leone.