Charity Searching for Ebola Answers
8 January 2015 at 10:15 am
A British charity has launched an investigation in a bid to discover how one of its staff members contracted the Ebola virus before returning home to Scotland.
Pauline Cafferkey was volunteering as a nurse for Save the Children, working in Sierra Leone in December.
British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Cafferkey was receiving the best possible care at the Royal Free Hospital in London and the Government had strengthened screening processes at airports.
Hunt said Cafferkey’s condition “has deteriorated to a critical state although she stabilised yesterday and continues to receive the best possible care".
Meanwhile the charity that Cafferkey had been volunteering for launched its own investigation into the incident.
A spokesperson for Save the Children said the organisation had started conducting a review as soon as it was confirmed Cafferkey was confirmed as Ebola positive on 29 December 2014.
“The Serious Event Review (SER) is looking at how the patient might have contracted Ebola by reviewing training, safety protocols, how protective equipment is used, and working practices,” the spokesperson said.
“The findings of the review will be considered by a panel including independent health experts, which will support Save the Children and make recommendations for any actions if necessary. The early findings of the review will be made available by Save the Children as soon as possible.
Despite the investigation, the spokesperson said it could never be known how Pauline Cafferkey became infected.
“As with other Ebola infections in health facilities, it may never be possible to be 100 per cent sure how the patient was infected,” the spokesperson said.
“The work of these brave health workers is never risk-free, but we are committed to doing everything possible to learn what happened and, if necessary, to make changes to our protocols and practice. Staff safety is our number one priority and our thoughts are with Pauline and her family at this very difficult time.”
Cafferkey was volunteering at the Kerry Town Ebola Treatment Centre, where as of 4 January 2015, 90 patients treated have survived the disease and were discharged in December 2014.
In December 79 patients recovered from the disease and were discharged from the centre, while 59 patients passed away.
According to the World Health Organisation, as of 28th December 2014, 678 healthcare workers have been infected with Ebola across West Africa, 382 of whom have died.