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British nurse who contracted Ebola hospitalized again

Associated Press

London — London’s Royal Free Hospital says a nurse who recovered from Ebola last year has been hospitalized again and is being treated for an unusual late complication. Her condition is described as serious.

A military aircraft flew Pauline Cafferkey from her home in Scotland to London early Friday. The hospital said she was being treated in its isolation unit.

Medical authorities say the risk of Cafferkey transmitting the virus is low, but public health officials in Scotland are monitoring people with whom she had close contact. Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with blood or body fluids.

Cafferkey was diagnosed with Ebola in December after returning from Sierra Leone. She was treated at the Royal Free for several weeks and discharged in January.

Cafferkey was honored at the Pride of Britain Awards in London last month and met with the prime minister’s wife, Samantha Cameron, at 10 Downing St.

Since Ebola broke out in Guinea’s forest region last year, it has killed more than 11,200 people in West Africa.

Such a case is not totally surprising, said Ben Neuman, a virologist at the University of Reading. He said that there has been mounting evidence of the mental and physical health problems in Ebola survivors that can last for years after the virus is cleared from the bloodstream. There are thousands of Ebola survivors in West Africa suffering from long-term side effects of the disease, many of whom have no access to treatment.

Still, he said, Cafferkey’s case appeared unusual, noting the stubborn persistence of Ebola virus in her body. In a similar case detected in an American doctor, Ebola was found in his eyes months after he recovered.