U.K. Nurse Suffers Rare Case Of Ebola Relapse

LONDON (AP) — The World Health Organization says it’s possible in rare instances for patients who survived Ebola to develop the lethal disease again, when the virus lingering in the body starts to replicate at high levels.

That might explain what has happened to a Scottish nurse now being treated in London’s Royal Free Hospital. Pauline Cafferkey was admitted Friday for an “unusual late complication” of Ebola after having recovered from the disease in January, the hospital said. On Wednesday, it said Cafferkey was critically ill after her condition deteriorated and that she was now suffering from Ebola, not just a complication.

WHO spokeswoman Dr. Margaret Harris said Thursday that the U.N. health agency has heard of several similar cases, although they are not well documented.

“What we have seen is that in some people, the virus lies dormant at a site and then for some unknown reason, starts to reproduce again,” she said. “We think it’s a minority of people, otherwise we would have seen cases all over the place.”

Harris said it’s unclear whether those people might then be infectious to others. British tabloids made much of the fact that Cafferkey was photographed standing near the prime minister’s wife recently after accepting an award in London.

To date, Ebola has killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa and left some 17,000 survivors in the region, many of whom have poor access to health care.

Harris said a significant number of recovered Ebola patients are still suffering ill effects from the virus. In some areas of Sierra Leone, half of the Ebola survivors have serious eye problems that only developed after they were discharged from the clinic, she said.

“We still have very little information about the impact of Ebola lingering in the body at different sites,” she said, noting it —> Read More