Ebola doctor isolated for three weeks returns to work

  • 26 August 2014
  • From the section Wales
Media captionDr Nathalie MacDermott felt her work was rewarding

A Cardiff doctor who was isolated for three weeks after treating Ebola patients in Africa has returned to work.

Dr Nathalie MacDermott, who works at Swansea's Singleton Hospital, had been in Liberia helping those who had contracted the virus.

On her return, she spent 21 days isolated in her flat as a precaution after two of her colleagues fell ill.

The 32-year-old said the virus was "like a time bomb gradually exploding".

Dr MacDermott was given leave from Singleton, where she works in paediatrics, to spend two weeks with Christian organisation Samaritan's Purse, which quarantines infected people to try and prevent the disease from spreading further in the community.


The Ebola outbreak in Africa has killed almost 1,500 people and Dr MacDermott said it was spiralling out of control when she arrived in July.

"Ebola is a horrible disease and can take a life very quickly - you can see a patient and within one or two hours they're dead," she said.

"There are the initial stages of fever, diarrhoea but they can start haemorrhaging, bleeding from different areas and can become confused and afraid."

At the treatment centre she was working in, in the capital Monrovia, there was a 90% mortality rate from around 100 patients she dealt with.

"It was very difficult," she said and added the trip was a "one of the most traumatic experiences".

Image copyright ALL NATIONS CHURCH
Image caption Nathalie (right) wearing the full protective clothing at the centre

"One or two people would get better but it was difficult to see people in triage who were still able to walk and eat but a week or two later would die. We did everything we could - a few did survive - and we could provide some comfort."

She said she had confidence with the protection and protocols for staff against the disease, but it could be difficult meeting relatives outside.

Two of her American colleagues, a doctor and hygienist, were infected - "it rocked our whole team" - but they have recovered and been released from hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.

For that reason, Dr MacDermott - who has worked previously at emergencies in the Philippines and Haiti - went into isolation when she returned to Cardiff.

She had no physical contact with family or friends.

"I was in my Cardiff apartment," said Dr MacDermott. "The first week back I slept a lot because I was exhausted."

She said she was able to order food and communicate with friends and family online.

"With modern technology, it's not so bad as you can speak on Skype," she said.

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