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Eyke: William Pooley, the first Briton to catch Ebola, is improving as he is treated at the Royal Free Hospital

20:04 01 September 2014

William Pooley from Eyke, near Woodbridge, who has contracted Ebola

William Pooley from Eyke, near Woodbridge, who has contracted Ebola

Archant

The first Briton to catch the deadly Ebola virus seems to be “pretty well”, his family have said.

William Pooley’s parents said he was showing “good signs” – including ordering a bacon sandwich for breakfast.

The 29-year-old’s parents Robin and Jackie said that their son is better than they thought he would be.

The volunteer nurse was flown back to the UK for treatment after contracting the virus in Sierra Leone.

Robin Pooley told the BBC: “He’s a lot better than we thought he might have been, we’ve only got what the medics tell us, but he’s got a little step in there which the physio gave him so he can rebuild his strength, that in itself is a good enough sign I think, but he seems to be pretty well actually.

“And his appetite is back, it came back with a bacon butty one morning for breakfast.”

Mr Pooley is being carefully monitored at the Royal Free Hospital in north London.

Mrs Pooley said: “We’re very glad he’s here because the care is second to none.”

Mr Pooley, who comes from Eyke in Suffolk, was airlifted back to Britain by a specially equipped C17 RAF jet, and is being treated in a specialist isolation ward at the hospital in Hampstead.

He only broke the news to his family when it was confirmed that he would be flying home, the BBC reported.

Mrs Pooley told the news organisation it was a “very stressful” and anxious time as Mr Pooley had to travel 160 miles to the aircraft which took off from the country’s capital Freetown.

She told the BBC: “It wasn’t until the plane had taken off that we breathed a very, very small sigh of relief, we knew he was on his way home.”

Doctors clad in protective plastic clothing and wearing gloves and masks are caring for him in the strictly monitored ward.

His parents said they have been able to talk to him through a telephone link and have been able to see him indistinctly through the layers of protective glass and plastic.

Mr Pooley has been given the experimental drug ZMapp - which showed further signs of promise last week after researchers successfully treated monkeys with the deadly disease.

All 18 rhesus macaques treated with the drug made a complete recovery, in contrast to three other untreated monkeys that quickly fell seriously ill and died.

ZMapp is a blend of three laboratory-made antibodies designed to neutralise the virus.

Two US doctors given the drug after they were infected with Ebola while working in Liberia subsequently recovered.

But it is not known whether they were saved by the drug or were just lucky - figures show that 47% of those infected in the current outbreak have survived.

At least two other patients treated with ZMapp have died, possibly because help got to them too late.

Latest figures show that more than 1,500 people have been killed in the West Africa outbreak.

But the World Health Organisation has warned that as many as 20,000 could contract the virus before the outbreak is over.

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