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Tue, 11/11/2014 - 23:32

Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital Chosen as Crisis Centre for Ebola

Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital Chosen as Crisis Centre for Ebola

The number of new cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone has jumped dramatically, putting paid to any hopes that the infection rate is slowing.

Official figures released by the minister of health and sanitation show there were 111 new cases registered on Sunday, the highest daily rate since the ministry started publishing figures in August.

The figures come days after warnings by the UN that Ebola cases in Sierra Leone are being underreported by up to 50%.

It is thought that some patients are still not attending hospital over fears that they will be turned away because there are no beds, or that they will die isolated from their families.

An outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Britain would mean patients from across the country being transferred to Sheffield for treatment.

The Royal Hallamshire Hospital is one of four hospitals nationwide where patients would be treated if a UK outbreak happens.

The Royal Free Hospital in London will treat anyone infected in a UK outbreak, with plans in place to transfer patients to Sheffield, as well as hospitals in Newcastle and Liverpool, if there is a national surge in cases.

The Royal Hallamshire Hospital has been selected as it has an infectious diseases unit with 33 dedicated beds, more than half of which are isolation rooms.

Dr David Throssell, medical director for Sheffield Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The risk of Ebola arriving in the UK remains very low and it can only be caught through direct contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids.

“The Royal Free Hospital, in London, is the lead centre for the management of any cases of Ebola in the UK. The Royal Hallamshire Hospital is designated as one of three other hospitals which are on standby to support the Royal Free Hospital if needed.

“Our Infectious Diseases Unit is a recognised specialist centre and therefore is well prepared with the equipment, facilities and specialists to deal with any cases of Ebola appropriately and safely.”

Key facts

  • Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.
  • The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
  • The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks
  • The first EVD outbreaks occurred in remote villages in Central Africa, near tropical rainforests, but the most recent outbreak in West Africa has involved major urban as well as rural areas.
  • Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Good outbreak control relies on applying a package of interventions, namely case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service, safe burials and social mobilisation.
  • Early supportive care with rehydration, symptomatic treatment improves survival. There is as yet no licensed treatment proven to neutralise the virus but a range of blood, immunological and drug therapies are under development.
  • There are currently no licensed Ebola vaccines but 2 potential candidates are undergoing evaluation.