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Ebola in the UK: British military healthcare worker tests positive for virus

The healthcare worker was based in Sierra Leonne

Kashmira Gander
Wednesday 11 March 2015 17:46 GMT
A member of the British military has tested positive for Ebola
A member of the British military has tested positive for Ebola (Getty)

A UK military healthcare worker in Sierra Leone has tested positive for Ebola, according to officials.

The unidentified individual is currently being treated in the Kerry Town Treatment, a Ministry of Defence spokeswoman has said.

Medical experts will now decide whether the worker should be flown back to the UK for treatment, according to Public Health England (PHE).

A PHE spokesman said that an investigation into how the military worker was exposed to the virus is currently underway, and will trace who the individual was in recent contact with.

He added: "The UK has robust, well-developed and well-tested systems for managing Ebola and the overall risk to the public in the UK continues to be very low.

"No further information is being given at this time."

The diagnosis comes after a patient suspected of having the deadly virus after travelling to an affected west African nation tested negative at a Cardiff hospital yesterday.

Since an outbreak began in March last year, more than 9,800 people have died of Ebola, mainly in west Africa. More than 100 health-care workers have been exposed to the virus while caring for Ebola patients according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

However, no British nationals have yet died of the disease. British nurses Pauline Cafferkey and Will Pooley both survived the highly-contagious disease after contracting it while treating patients in Sierra Leone last year.

Five other Britons have been tested for the virus but the results have come back negative.

Among them were two other military healthcare workers, who were discharged from the hospital last month after being kept under observation following needle-stick injuries while treating sufferers in Sierra Leone.

While Ebola has a death rate of up to 90 per cent according to WHO, it is harder to contract that other viruses as infection occurs from direct contact through broken skin or mucous membranes with the blood, or other bodily fluids or secretions, including faeces, urine, saliva, and semen.

Once a person has caught Ebola, their symptoms can include sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain and a sore throat. Subsequent stages are vomiting, diarrhoea and in some cases internal and external bleeding.

Additional reporting by PA

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