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Doctor with NI link heads to help combat Ebola

Dr Christopher Logue

Dr Christopher Logue

A senior doctor who spent much of his childhood in Northern Ireland is to travel to Guinea to help combat the Ebola outbreak.

Dr Christopher Logue is a virologist who will lead tests at a laboratory to check if patients with symptoms have actually contracted the potentially deadly virus.

So far more than 1,000 people have died and almost 2,000 suspected, probable or confirmed cases have been recorded in West Africa since the outbreak was first detected.

Dr Logue grew up in Park in Co Londonderry and is a senior virologist at the Novel and Dangerous Pathogens Training unit of Public Health England, based in Wiltshire.

The laboratory has an international reputation in scientific research, with a long established record in the safe handling of hazardous pathogens.

On Sunday the senior medic will travel to the scene of the outbreak and expects to remain there for a month as part of a team using rapid diagnosis tests on patients which can identify the presence of the Ebola virus in blood samples within a few hours.

Guinea has closed its borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia in a bid to halt the spread of the epidemic. Almost 400 people have died there.

Dr Logue told the BBC: “When you think about the sheer number of people that these doctors have to deal with, even with the best protection in the world, accidents can happen.”

He added: “I’m not so much worried, because we’ve worked with Ebola for over 30 years and any time there’s a suspect case coming into the UK it would be sent to us to test.

“With respect to being on the ground, it is slightly worrying but now we’re quite far into the outbreak.”

He said: “Local teams have done a great job of informing local communities, and community leaders are going out to rural areas and informing people about the disease so they can be treated and looked after.

“It’s a bit more stable now, which helps alleviate any fears we might have had.”

Meanwhile, Liberia is facing an excruciating choice - deciding which handful of Ebola patients will receive an experimental drug that could prove either life-saving or life-threatening.

ZMapp, the untested Ebola drug, arrived in the West African country late on Wednesday.

Assistant health minister Tolbert Nyenswah said three or four people would begin getting it yesterday. The government had previously said two doctors would receive the treatment, but it was unclear who else would.

These are the last known doses of ZMapp left in the world. The US-based company that developed it has said it will take months to build up even a modest supply.

 

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