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.”
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.
“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.
Ebola virus disease (EVD)
- 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
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.”