News

Vaccinations for health workers who had contact with Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey

Health workers who came into contact with nurse Pauline Cafferkey, who is in hospital with a relapse of the Ebola virus, have been asked not to see their own patients while waiting for 'all clear' from experts. 

Health workers known to have come into contact with Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey have been asked to stay away from patients while they themselves are monitored to see if they show symptoms of the disease.

A total of 58 close contacts, also including friends and family, of the Scottish nurse have been tracked down and examined by experts from Health Protection Scotland, Public Health England, the Scottish government and her local hospital trust NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC).

Ms Cafferkey was readmitted to the Royal Free Hospital in London after relapsing last week.

She contracted the deadly infection while volunteering in Sierra Leone in December and spent three weeks in isolation at the Royal Free before recovering from the disease. 

But last week she went to Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow feeling unwell and had to be transferred to the London hospital again to be treated by specialists. 

She remains in a serious condition, the Royal Free has said.

Forty of the 58 close contacts have been offered vaccinations because they had direct contact with her bodily fluids.

Of these, 25 accepted while 15 declined or were unable to receive one due to existing medical conditions.

Following the vaccination the patients will have twice daily temperature checks for 21 days and have restrictions placed on their ability to travel.

Health worker contacts have additionally been asked to have no contact with patients during this period.

An update from NHSGGC said the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine offered is unlicensed but currently being trialled in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and has been tested in more than 7,000 people during the recent outbreak of Ebola in Guinea.

Existing clinical feedback shows one in four recipients are expected to experience raised body temperature and those who do will have a further blood test for Ebola which will be carried out at the Scottish National Viral Haemorrhagic Fever Test Centre in Edinburgh.

Meanwhile, Nursing Standard has learned Ms Cafferkey remains under investigation by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) following allegations of misconduct in regard to her initial illness after returning from Sierra Leone.

It is related to her initial screening at Heathrow Airport. 

She appeared before a NMC panel in private in March but no date was set for a hearing.

A NMC spokesperson said no decision on a hearing has been made and the case remains at the investigation stage.

This is a free article for registered users

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this? You can register for free access.