UK & World News

  • 28 August 2014, 3:56

Ebola Nurse 'May Have Caught Virus From Child'

A British nurse infected with ebola in Sierra Leone might have caught it while playing with a toddler whose mother had died of the deadly disease, a colleague has said.

William Pooley was flown home at the weekend and admitted to an isolation unit at the Royal Free hospital in Hampstead, where he has been given the experimental drug ZMapp.

While working as a volunteer at a clinic in eastern Sierra Leone the 29-year-old developed a bond with a baby boy named Sellu Borbor, according to his supervisor Finda Josephine Sellu.

Initially he took precautions with the child, who it was feared would have caught the disease from his mother's breast milk, but when Sellu was tested for ebola and the results came back negative he began playing with him without protection.

"Pooley and some other nurses fell in love with the boy and would play with him in their free time," the supervisor said.

But the child later developed a fever and another test found he had ebola.

He died on August 24, the same day that Mr Pooley was diagnosed.

Another nurse who played with Sellu has also tested positive for the highly-contagious disease.

Mr Pooley, from Eyke, in Suffolk, worked at a hospice in Freetown before moving to the ebola centre in Kenema, where he was infected.

The Royal Free said on Tuesday that he was "sitting up and talking to the nurses and doctors who are looking after him".

The supervisor in Kenema said she was "very sad" Mr Pooley had been infected and was praying for the "hardworking young man".

"Some patients are very weak and messy but Pooley would attend to them with dedication and commitment," she said.

Several staff at the clinic, including its head doctor Sheik Umar Khan, have died during the outbreak, which the World Health Organisation says has killed more than 1,400 people across West Africa.

Air France has suspended its flights to Sierra Leone because of the outbreak and France has recommended its citizens leave there and Liberia due to the spread of the disease.

British Airways stopped its flights to the worst-hit countries on Tuesday.

However, the UN ebola envoy David Nabarro said such a move made it more difficult for international agencies to do their work.

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