Experimental Ebola drug for British nurse

NGO workers at an Ebola training session with a mannequin in Brussels. Photo/ AP
NGO workers at an Ebola training session with a mannequin in Brussels. Photo/ AP

A British nurse infected with Ebola while working in Sierra Leone is being given the same experimental drug used on two US missionaries who have recovered for the disease, doctors in London say.

William Pooley, 29, is being treated with ZMapp after being flown out of Sierra Leone on a specially-equipped British military plane.

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Others who have received ZMapp include two US missionaries, Dr Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, who were treated in the US city of Atlanta before leaving hospital last week. Liberian doctor Abraham Borbor died on Sunday despite receiving the serum.

"We have had the opportunity to give him the ZMapp treatment," said Michael Jacobs of London's Royal Free Hospital, where Pooley is being treated in a special isolation unit.

"What has become apparent to us is that he is clearly a rather resilient and remarkable young man," Dr Jacobs said on Tuesday.

Pooley was working as a volunteer nurse in Kenema in Sierra Leone's east, one of the areas worst hit by Ebola, when he was infected.

In an interview with the Guardian newspaper days before he contracted Ebola, he spoke of his pride at being able to help people with the virus.

"It's great seeing them walking away after some of them have been in a terrible state and me seeing them on the ward," he said.

There is no known cure or vaccine for Ebola, a violent haemorrhagic fever transmitted through bodily fluids.

ZMapp is grown in tobacco leaves and contains a cocktail of antibodies. Doctors have stressed that without rigorous clinical trials, they cannot tell for sure if it helps patients recover or not.

Ebola has killed 1427 people since the start of the year. The countries worst hit include the west African states of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

The UN's Ebola envoy, David Nabarro, said yesterday it could take six months to stop the current outbreak.


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