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Tuesday, March 30, 1999 Published at 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK


Malaria 'kills hospital patient'

Three patients were infected with malaria at Nottingham City Hospital

A patient infected with malaria on a hospital ward is believed to have died of the disease after being discharged.

An inquest into the death of 22-year-old Gavin Sebborn opened and adjourned on Tuesday.

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It is believed that Mr Sebbornt, who lived at Karibu House, a hostel for the homeless in Notingham, died from malaria although he had been admitted for treatment to Nottingham City Hospital for another condition.

It emerged on Monday that two other patients contracted malaria while they were inpatients on the infectious disease ward at the hospital - only the second time there has been an outbreak of the tropical disease in a British hospital.

Ward closed

Health officials have launched an investigation into how the patients got malaria after being admitted to the Nightingale Two ward.

One of other infected patients is a 90-year-old woman, the other is a man.

The ward has been closed and fumigated.

Officials believe the infection happened on March 1st, possibly as a result of cross-contamination during a medical procedure. Mr Sebborn and the other two infected patients were being treated on the ward at the time.

Other patients and staff who were on the ward at the time were screened for malaria and the tests proved negative.

A hospital spokeswoman said: "Blood tests were taken from other 11 patients who were on the ward at the time and they have shown negative results.

"However, a few of the patients are continuing to receive basic treatment as a precaution."

Blood samples

Staff and patients who had been on the ward previously are having blood samples taken as a precaution.

Dr Anthony Morgan, medical director, said: "It is extremely rare for the disease to be passed on to other patients in a hospital.

"As far as we know it has only happened once before in this country."

High fever

He added: "Prompt action taken by the hospital to close the affected ward and call in experts should prevent any further spread of the disease."

Both patients involved in the latest scare are said to be responding well to treatment.

Tiyani Behanzin, manager of the Karibu homeless hostel, where Mr Sebborn lived for eight months, said the dead man, whose body was discovered in his room on March 16, had been very popular with other residents.

"Gavin was well-liked and had really started planning for the future," he said.

"He felt for the first time that he actually had a family and people who cared about him.

"No-one can believe this has happened. It is such a tragedy and should never have happened."

Public health doctors have visited the home and offered advice to staff and residents.

Mr Sebborn's adoptive parents, who live in Somerset, have been informed of his death and his funeral is expected to take place on Friday.

Experts in tropical medicine have been called in to help with the hospital inquiry.

Malaria is the world's second biggest killer disease.

It is spread by mosquitoes and symptoms include a cycle of high fever and chills.

Most cases can be successfully treated.

Call for investigation

Speaking in House of Commons, Nottingham MP John Heppell called for a full investigation into the outbreak, and for an assurance that measures would be taken to prevent a recurrence.

Junior Health Minister John Denham described is a "very unusual case".

He said: "The authorities will certainly be establishing what happened in this particular case and whether any lessons are to be learned from it."

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