Ebola Infection 'Linked To Visor'

4 February 2015, 12:22 | Updated: 4 February 2015, 15:58

A British nurse who contracted Ebola while working in Sierra Leone possibly caught the virus by wearing a visor and not goggles, an investigation has suggested.

The report by Save the Children said it cannot be completely certain how Pauline Cafferkey contracted Ebola but said both pieces of equipment are "equally safe''.

The nurse, from Cambuslang in South Lanarkshire, had volunteered with the charity at the Ebola Treatment Centre (ETC) in Kerry Town before returning to the UK in December.

She spent more than three weeks in a London hospital where she was critically ill for a time, but was released earlier this month after making a full recovery.

Save the Children published the findings of an independent review into the possible causes of how the 39-year-old caught the virus.

The report said both visors and goggles are safe but there are slight differences in the type of clothing worn with each and in the protocols for putting them on and removing them.

Justin Forsyth, the charity's chief executive, said: "We will never be 100% sure how Pauline contracted Ebola, but the independent panel found that it is most likely, though not conclusive, she acquired her illness while working at the Ebola Treatment Centre at Kerry Town in Sierra Leone. It thought it unlikely that Pauline contracted the disease while in the local community.

"The panel found that the Save the Children procedures, equipment and protocols at the ETC are safe and meet all required standards and that training is of a good standard.

"Working under such intense and challenging conditions, however, cannot be without risk. Although there is no conclusive evidence, the panel suggests that Pauline's use of a visor, within a context geared to the use of goggles, was the most likely cause of her contracting Ebola.''

He added: "Both visors - used by UK Ministry of Defence staff and recommended by the World Health Organisation - and goggles, which are used by Save the Children after consultation with Medecins Sans Frontieres, are safe but there are slight differences in the clothing used with each and the protocols for putting the equipment on and taking it off.

"The panel found that where Save the Children-approved protocols may not have been followed, or where prescribed equipment was not used, they weren't picked up immediately and therefore action might not have been taken quickly to correct them.

"Lessons have already been learned and as a result of the findings, we have further tightened our protocols and procedures.''