'Significant improvement' for UK Ebola nurse

  • 22/10/2015
Pauline Cafferkey (AAP)
Pauline Cafferkey (AAP)

There has been a "significant improvement" in the health of a British nurse who suffered a relapse after contracting Ebola in Sierra Leone.

Despite recovering from the virus in December after returning to the Scottish city of Glasgow from Sierra Leone, Pauline Cafferkey, 39, was readmitted to hospital with meningitis on October 6.

"In the last few days she's made a significant improvement. She's much better now," said infectious disease consultant Michael Jacobs of the Royal Free Hospital, where she was hospitalised.

"We have no doubt ... that the virus re-emerged around the brain and around the spinal column to cause this meningitis."

On Monday (local time), Cafferkey's condition was "serious but stable", after she was declared "critically ill" last Wednesday.

"I think she has a long recovery ahead of her and will be with us for quite a while still," Jacobs said on Wednesday.

During her initial bout, the nurse spent almost a month in the isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital and was treated with an experimental anti-viral drug and blood from Ebola survivors before being discharged on January 24.

After relapsing, she was treated in Glasgow before being flown by military aircraft to the Royal Free Hospital.

According to Ben Neumann of the British University of Reading, the nurse would be only the second known case of Ebola reactivation.

The 2013 Ebola outbreak in West Africa infected about 28,000 people and killed 11,300, the virus' highest toll since its identification in central Africa in 1976.