Doctors in Berlin are keeping watch over a South Korean medic who was exposed to the Ebola virus while treating a patient in Sierra Leone. The medic had suffered an injury with a hypodermic needle.
The South Korean arrived on a special flight in Berlin Saturday to be monitored for symptoms of Ebola, doctors at the German capital's prominent Charité hospital said.
"The person wasn't flown to South Korea because the Korean government asked Europe to step in," Dr. Frank Bergmann, who oversees the hospital's treatment of highly infectious patients, said. "First of all it's good from a transportation point of view to come here and secondly it's better for the person's anonymity to be treated here in Europe," Bergmann added.
He said both the medic and the government of South Korea had requested as few details as possible be released, so declined to give the medic's age, gender, profession or employer.
On Monday, the medic had been treating an Ebola patient in Sierra Leone when the patient jolted, causing the needle on a syringe filled with blood to pierce the three plastic gloves the medic was wearing.
"The patient had a very high viral load and died the next day, which means that there was a very high risk of infection," Bergmann said, although adding that the medic did not currently show any symptoms of Ebola. They will remain under close medical supervision until the end of the three-week incubation period for Ebola. Bergmann added that should the medic develop symptoms, doctors could use experimental drugs.
"With our European standards there should be a good prognosis," he said.
Previously, three medical workers have been treated for Ebola in Germany - a Senegalese doctor who had been infected in Sierra Leone was treated in Hamburg and survived, as did a Ugandan doctor also infected in Sierra Leone who was treated in Frankfurt. In Leipzig, a United Nations worker from Africa died from the disease after contracting it in Liberia.
Scottish nurse's condition worsens
Meanwhile, doctors in London report that a nurse being treated for Ebola there is now in a critical condition.
"The Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust is sorry to announce that the condition of Pauline Cafferkey has gradually deteriorated over the past two days and is now critical," the hospital said in a statement Saturday. The 39-year-old contracted the disease while working voluntarily in Sierra Leone and reported feeling ill on Monday after she had returned to Scotland.
An Italian doctor who had caught Ebola in Sierra Leone was on Friday announced to have recovered from the disease. The Rome hospital where Fabrizio Pulvirenti was being treated will send his antibodies back to Sierra Leone to assist the Ebola fight.
During the past year, the worst-ever outbreak of Ebola has killed more than 7,900 people and sickened more than 20,200, according to the World Heath Organization (WHO). The vast majority of cases have been in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The contagious disease, which is spread via contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, has taken a heavy toll on health workers with 678 known to be infected and 328 killed, according to the WHO.
se/nm (AP, dpa, epd, Reuters, AFP)