Ebola Update: How nurse who treated Patrick Sawyer died

Ebola Virus

The second nurse who died on Thursday at the Yaba Mainland General Hospital, Lagos, from the Ebola Virus Disease was brought to the hospital by her husband, who was bathed with bleach and let go.

This was revealed to PREMIUM TIMES by a source, who did not want to be named because he was not authorised to speak for the family.

According to the source, the nurse was brought to the Isolation Unit of the hospital after her husband noticed she had started developing symptoms of the viral disease.

The nurse admitted to her husband that she had been in contact with the Liberian after Mr. Sawyer was discovered to have died of the disease, the source said.

“The Liberian, Mr. Sawyer, was at (First Consultant Medical Centre, Obalende) for about four days before he died. And she was one of the nurses who attended to him,” the source said. “When she started exhibiting all those Ebola symptoms some days ago, the husband hired a taxi at about 11 p.m. and brought her here where she had been in admission. The husband and the taxi driver were bathed with JIK (bleach) and the car was also treated before they were let go.”

When PREMIUM TIMES visited the Mainland Hospital on Wednesday, a dark skinned man identified as the deceased’s husband was seen moving restlessly outside the hospital’s Isolation Unit.

On Thursday, he arrived in the company of two women who, when they learnt about the nurse’s passing, struggled to fight back tears.

Hours later, the deceased’s husband, who was on the phone for most of the afternoon, was seen putting on a protective gear in preparation to enter the Isolation Unit.

A nurse working in the Isolation Unit corroborated the story, adding that about eight people were still quarantined in the ward.

Two weeks ago, at his first press conference in Lagos after the Ebola outbreak, the Lagos Commissioner for Health, Jide Idris, said that 44 people at the First Consultant Medical Centre had had contact with Mr. Sawyer.

Of that figure, 38 were health workers while six were laboratory staff.

Health minister confirms

The Minster of Health Onyebuchi Chukwu in a statement, on Thursday evening, confirmed the death of the nurse.

Mr. Chukwu also disclosed that Nigeria now had 10 confirmed cases of Ebola Virus Disease, EVD.
He said out of these, four had died and six were currently receiving treatment.

Mr. Chukwu also stated that the total number of persons under surveillance in Lagos were now 169, adding that they were all secondary contacts as all the primary contacts had completed the 21-day incubation period and delisted to resume their normal lives.

The Minister also noted that there was no Ebola Virus Disease in Enugu.

“All cases are still confined to Lagos State. Also, reports of Ebola Virus Disease in Abia, Imo, Akwa Ibom and Anambra States as well as the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja have all been investigated and none of them was found to be Ebola Virus positive,” he said.

He, however, said that Enugu State now had six persons under surveillance as 15, after complete evaluation, were found not to have had contact with a nurse, a primary contact of Mr. Sawyer, who became symptomatic and tested positive and was one of the 10 confirmed cases.

The nurse, who had been placed under surveillance in Lagos, disobeyed the Incidence Management Committee and travelled to Enugu, the minister said.

He noted that at the time the nurse made the trip, she was yet to show any symptom and did not infect anyone on her way as transmission of the disease was only possible when a carrier of the virus becomes ill.

“However, she has since been brought back to Lagos. Before the return journey, she had become symptomatic and had to be conveyed to Lagos with her spouse in special ambulances. The husband is not symptomatic neither is he positive for Ebola Virus Disease but has been quarantined given the intimate contact with her while in Enugu,” Mr. Chukwu said.


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  • Kalien

    What I don’t understand is, if there is no ‘cure’ for this virus, then how is bathing people that come in contact with patients with the virus in bleach and disinfecting going to enure people that this is not spreading further?

    • cdo12

      If they don’t have symptoms, but have had contact with the person, there can be fluids on them, carrying the virus. Washing them off disinfects any surface. IF they have breathed it in or gotten it in their eyes, or through a cut or scrape, they will begin to show fever symptoms within 21 days.

      • Kalien

        Thanks for clearing that up, cdo12 and Klove. I guess what I should have asked was if bleach does indeed kill the virus outside of the body, as I wasn’t sure if it did or not.

        • cdo12

          The problem with ebola is easy to understand if you understand the two terms that apply to any infectious disease. Contagion and virulence. There’s a difference. Flu is not particularly virulent, in that it doesn’t kill most of the people who get it, but it is highly contagious. It’s airborne like smoke and millions of people get it each year and thousands die from it. But as a percentage, you don’t see really high mortality. Ebola is not contagious like that. Millions don’t get it. It’s not airborne (only one of the five showed very limited ability to travel short distances but that was the one that affects only animals). You have to be very near to the person who has it to catch it, but if you are there it’s highly virulent. Just a few tiny particles inside you are enough to cause the infection to start, and once it starts, there’s no stopping it. That’s virulence. Not everyone who breathes in the flu gets the flu. You breathe in ebola, you’re getting it.

    • Klove

      There is no cure for the virus once contracted. Viruses can only live outside of a host for a certain amount of time. Bleach is known to kill many viruses Ebola among them when it is outside of a host.

  • kokoro dudu

    I thought everyone that hard contact with Sawyer was quarantined?

    • cdo12

      One of the nurses snuck out and took a little trip.

  • bra

    Does bleach do the trick ?