LONDON (AFP) – A British nurse who contracted Ebola in West Africa is being treated with the blood plasma of someone who survived the virus and an experimental anti-viral drug, the doctor supervising her care said Wednesday.
Pauline Cafferkey, who had been volunteering at a British-built treatment centre in Sierra Leone, is being treated at the Royal Free hospital in London, which has the only isolation ward in Britain equipped for Ebola sufferers.
Doctor Michael Jacobs said she was sitting up, reading and talking to medics from inside her isolation tent but warned that the Ebola virus was unpredictable and that her health could get worse.
“We’ve decided to treat her with two things, the first of which is convalescent plasma,” Jacobs told reporters.
“The second thing that we’ve given her is an experimental antiviral drug.”
The plasma was taken from the blood of a patient successfully treated in Europe and chosen from a shared European stockpile as the most appropriate for Cafferkey. The antibodies it contains should help her fight the virus, Jacobs explained.
The experimental drug is not ZMapp, the drug used to treat fellow British volunteer nurse William Pooley, who recovered from Ebola, because “there is none in the world at the moment”, Jacobs said.
“There is no specific treatment for Ebola that has been proven to work,” he emphasised.
Cafferkey is the first person to test positive for Ebola in Britain and the second to be treated for the virus in the country after Pooley, who has since returned to Sierra Leone.