William Pooley will return to Sierra Leone when he gets a passport to replace the one that was incinerated

 

The first British person to contract Ebola in the current outbreak in Africa is to return to the country where he was infected in order to help others fight the disease.

 

William Pooley was treated in London after being flown out of Sierra Leone.

 

He has made a full recovery and, having been discharged from hospital, said he is to travel back within “a few weeks”.

 

The 29-year-old said he was “impatient” to return and that it was likely he was now immune to the deadly illness.

 

Mr Pooley had been working as a volunteer nurse in Sierra Leone, which is one of the worst affected countries, when he contracted the virus.

 

Around half of the 3,000 people infected in the current African outbreak, which started in Guinea, have died.

 

“I’m quite impatient to get back doing what I know needs to done,” Mr Pooley told BBC News

 

“And I feel like I’ve left things undone, having left prematurely. And I know there’s a lot of work to do out there, and we need to get out there and do it.”
‘Easy decision’

The nurse, from Eyke in Suffolk, was treated in a special isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital, where he was given the experimental drug ZMapp.

 

He said his decision to return was an easy one.

 

Map: Ebola outbreak in West Africa

 

“It’s massively safer for me. I have immunity now to this strain of Ebola,” Mr Pooley said.

 

“We’re not sure how long that immunity lasts or whether it’s 100%, but it’s massively safer for me to work there now than it was before.”

 

Mr Pooley’s passport was incinerated upon his evacuation from Sierra Leone.

 

He said his new one was “in the post” and that his family was supportive of his plans to return to volunteer.

 

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Ebola virus disease (EVD)

Ebola virus

 

    • Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage

 

    • Spread by body fluids, such as blood and saliva

 

    • Fatality rate can reach 90% – but current outbreak has mortality rate of about 55%

 

    • Incubation period is two to 21 days

 

    • There is no vaccine or cure

 

    • Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery

 

    • Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus’s natural host

 

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The volunteer nurse was flown back to the UK by the RAF on Sunday 24 August.

 

He was in the earlier stages of the disease – suffering from a high temperature and uncontrollable shakes – but he was not bleeding.

 

He has urged Prime Minister David Cameron to “take global leadership” in helping to improve hospital resources in the affected parts of Africa.

 

Estimates suggest up to 20,000 people will be infected during this outbreak.

 

“It could go a few different ways,” he said.

 

“If proper action starts now then we could see more deaths in the thousands, coming under control within a matter of a few months. If there’s a really concerted effort now.

 

“If there isn’t, I can’t imagine what would happen. Whole countries would be devastated and that’s not an exaggeration.”

 

There is currently no drug approved to fight Ebola, but WHO has allowed medical professionals to use experimental or untested medications in a last ditch effort to save lives.

One drug, an experimental treatment known as ZMapp, has been used to treat six patients: American health workers Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, a Spanish priest, two African doctors and one African nurse. Brantly and Writebol survived but the Spanish priest did not. The African health care workers are showing signs of improvement, according to the AP.

Still, experts say it’s unclear whether ZMapp — a cocktail of three antibodies that attack the virus – actually helped those who received it. Before Brantly received his dose, the drug had only been tested in monkeys.

“Frankly we do not know if it helped them, made any difference, or even delayed their recovery,” said Dr. Bruce Ribner, director of Emory’s infectious disease unit, where Brantly and Writebol were treated.

Experimental Ebola Drug’s Role in Americans’ Recoveries Remains Unclear

Another drug, an Ebola vaccine developed by the U.S. National Institute for Health, is scheduled to be tested on humans for the first time in September. Another vaccine out of Canada is also expected to be tested, the Associated Press reported