Ebola: British army medic tests positive for the disease

Female military healthcare worker contracted Ebola while working in Sierra Leone, MoD confirms

British army medics
(Image credit: 2014 Getty Images)

A British woman has become the first member of the army to contract Ebola while stationed in West Africa, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.

The army medic, who was working in Sierra Leone, is expected to be flown back to the UK to receive specialist treatment at the Royal Free Hospital in London, Sky News reports.

"Despite there being stringent procedures and controls in place to safeguard UK service personnel, there is always a level of risk in deployments on operations of this type," said the MoD.

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The woman's next of kin have been notified, but her name has not been made public. A second military healthcare worker was also tested for the disease after displaying symptoms, but is believed to have been given the all-clear.

An investigation has now been launched into how she contracted the virus at the British-run Ebola clinic in Kerry Town, near Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown.

"Any individuals identified as having had close contact [with this person] will be assessed and a clinical decision made regarding bringing them to the UK," said Public Health England.

"The UK has robust, well-developed and well-tested systems for managing Ebola and the overall risk to the public in the UK continues to be very low."

Up to 700 British military personnel are currently stationed in Sierra Leone, working alongside more than 1,000 NHS volunteers to combat the Ebola crisis.

The woman is the third Briton to test positive for the disease. Nurses William Pooley and Pauline Cafferkey were flown back to the UK for specialist treatment and have both made full recoveries.

Almost 10,000 people are known to have died from the disease and nearly 24,000 have been infected, the majority of them in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

"This case is unfortunately a sad reminder that there is an ongoing crisis here with Ebola," said Kate Dooley, from the Africa Governance Initiative.

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