The strongest muscle in the human body is the masseter (the jaw muscle).

Source: Wikipedia


My Visit to the Museum| Ebola & Operation: Gritrock.

I’d recently At the Imperial War Museum, London I decided to give you a snapshot of one of the things that interested me: Ebola, its spread and steps taken to prevent further spread via Operation Gritrock.



Here’s a timeline of the main events that took place from 2014 -2015 in the greatest outbreak of Ebola, from its spread in the African country of Sierra Leone to the official declaration of Sierra Leone being free from Ebola.

From the visit (taken from Imperial War Museum exhibition: Ebola and ISIS).


March 22nd: First suspected victim of Ebola in Sierra Leone

A 14 year old boy is thought to have died of Ebola after attending the funeral of an Ebola victim in Guinea. Traditional practices of handling the dead mean that Ebola can spread easily.


May 24th: First woman confirmed to have Ebola in Sierra Leone

A woman who has a miscarriage is tested positive for Ebola but makes a full recovery. This marks the first confirmed case of Ebola in Sierra Leone.

May 26th: First Ebola deaths in Sierra Leone confirmed

The World Health Organisation (WHO) confirms the first deaths from Ebola in Sierra Leone. This confirms that the disease has spread through the boarders from Guinea and Liberia.

May 30th: Ebola cases triple in three days

Ebola cases in Sierra Leone triple in three days in the border regions. The increase in cases makes it more likely that disease will spread further afield.

June 3rd: British nationals are advised against travelling

British nationals are advised against any non-essential travel to Sierra Leone. British nationals working in Sierra Leone begin to leave.

June 11th: Sierra Leone closes borders

Borders are closed between Sierra Leone and Guinea/Liberia. Schools, cinemas and nightclubs are closed in some regions. It is hoped that this will limit exposure to Ebola.

June 12th: State of emergency declared in Kailahun

A state of emergency is announced in the Kailahun District due to the Ebola death toll. Nearly half of all Ebola cases are now dying from the disease.

June 20th: MSF  declares Ebola out of control

A Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) official declares that Ebola is out of control in West Africa. Efforts to contain the disease are proving ineffective.

July 11th : First case of ebola confirmed in Freetown

The first case of Ebola is confirmed in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, from a man who had travelled into the area. This marks the spread of the disease into urban areas.

July 29th : Dr Sheik Umar Khan dies of Ebola:

Dr Sheik Umar Khan, a leading figure in the treatment of Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, dies of Ebola himself. Medical staff begin worry for their safety.

August 1st: State of emergency declared in Sierra Leone

A state of national emergency is declared in Sierra Leone after disease has been found extensively in urban areas.

August 24th: First Briton to contract Ebola: Will Pooley

British nurse Will Pooley contracts Ebola six weeks after arriving in Sierra Leone. He is flown back to the UK and later makes a full recovery after being treated at the Royal Free Hospital in London with experimental drug ZMapp .

September 15th: Operation Gritrock begins

400 UK troops are deployed to Sierra Leone to help combat Ebola. This marks the start of Operation Gritrock , a humanitarian aid mission.

September 19th: Sierra Leone begins three day lockdown of Freetown

Sierra Leone begins a three day lockdown of Freetown in order to control the spread of Ebola in the city, with people not allowed to leave their homes.

October 17th: RFA Argus is deployed to Sierra Leone

RFA Argus is deployed to Sierra Leone with three Merlin helicopters to provide aid resources and medical supplies to help combat Ebola.

November 5th: First UK Government funded Ebola Treatment Centre

The first UK government funded Ebola treatment centre opens in Kerry Town. This is the first of six treatment centres funded by the UK.

December 8th: Sierra Leonean doctors strike

Junior doctors in Sierra Leone strike over the lack of medical provision and equipment following the deaths of 10 doctors in the outbreak.


December 29th: Pauline Cafferkey is diagnosed with Ebola

Scottish nurse Pauline Cafferkey is diagnosed with Ebola after returning to the UK from Sierra Leone, after complaining of a temperature. She recovers after being treated with plasma from Ebola patients, but suffers later complications.



January 8th: First patients admitted to new treatment facility

The first patients are admitted to a newly-opened Médecins Sans Frontières Ebola treatment facility in Kissy, on the outskirts of the Freetown-one of the worst hit areas.

January 10th: First Ebola-free district in Sierra Leone

The district of Pujehun, in the south-east, is declared the first Ebola-free area in Sierra Leone. IN order for an area to be Ebola-free, it must not have had a confirmed case for 42 days.

March 28th: Corporal Anna Cross recovers from Ebola

Corporal Anna Cross, who contracted Ebola when working as a nurse at the Kerry Town Ebola Treatment Centre in Sierra Leone, makes a full recovery. She was the first to be treated with the experimental drug MIL77 at the Royal Free Hospital.

July 31st: Ebola vaccine proves extremely effective

An Ebola vaccine (VSV-EBOV) which trains the immune system to fight Ebola is trialled in Guinea and is shown to have a 100% success rate.

August 8th: Ban on public gathering is lifted

The ban on public gatherings is lifted in Sierra Leone. People are now allowed to attend sporting events, nightclubs and visit restaurants after 9pm.

September 1st: Corpse tests positive for Ebola

Despite declaring itself Ebola-free at the end of August, a corpse tested positive for Ebola in Sierra Leone. Contacts of the deceased are held in isolation.

October 8th: Pauline Cafferkey returns to the Royal Free Hospital

Pauline Cafferkey is readmitted to the infectious disease unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London, after seemingly suffering an Ebola relapse. It later transpires that she has meningitis caused by the Ebola virus.

November 7th: Sierra Leone declared free of Ebola

After 42 days without a single new reported case of the disease, Sierra Leone is officially declared free of Ebola by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

November 13th: Operation Gritrock comes to an end

Operation Gritrock comes to a formal end with the return to the UK of the final eight British military personnel from Sierra Leone.


I ended up having such a wonderful time and I hope, like I have, that this has helped you to get an overview of the events that took place to combat the spread of a virus whose deathly affects affected many families in African countries such as Sierra Leone , DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) Guinea and Liberia and which has shocked the UK through the media as well as helping us to understand the importance of containment and other methods of spread prevention (e.g. washing hands, not eating bush meat, ban on public gatherings, etc) in preventing the loss of , potentially, many more lives.




For more on Ebola, have a look at these websites that I found useful:

  1. Futurelearn (Free online course)- Ebola: Symptoms, History and Origins

  1. Futurelearn (Free online course)- Ebola in context: Understanding Transmission, Response and Control


  1. BBC News: Ebola Outbreak


  1. France 24: Ebola (it’s always good to understand news from another country’s point of view).


  1. CBBC Newsround- Guide: What is Ebola?

(… and sometimes it’s good to go back to the ol’ basics. VERY VERY basic).


  1. Youtube- BBC Our World: Surviving Ebola- BBC Documentary 2015.

Why do we have blood types? : A simple explanation.

Why do we have blood types? : A simple explanation.


Red blood cells are just one of the components of the blood that travels along our veins, arteries, capillaries, arterioles and venules ; this includes  platelets , white blood cells and plasma liquid, of which red blood cells play the role in giving blood the red colour that it is known for and which you can notice instantly, whether it’s in a hospital drama such as Casualty or Greys Anatomy or  in childhood memories of nosebleeds and cutting your skin after falling over.


A, B, AB and O blood types  are the four main blood types known to us today and can either be positive or negative,  with AB- being the rarest blood type and O+ being the most common  blood groups ( in the US and the UK population). The antigens on these red blood cells, unlike antigens found on foreign organisms such as bacteria, do not  usually undergo attack by the immune system as they are not considered as foreign by the immune system (except if a person has an autoimmune disease) .

The reason as to why we have different blood types is because these different groups of blood are different and what makes the red blood cells different is the presence of antigens, which are proteins found on cell surface, or in this case on the surface of red blood cells. People who are classed as having type A blood are classed as such because they have particular antigens, B antigens, on the surface of their blood cells (erythrocytes), those with type A blood have A antigens on the surface of the blood and AB blood contains red blood cells with both A and B antigens on the surface of their red blood cells. Those with O type blood groups have neither A or B antigens on their cell surface.

Also something we have probably heard of when talking about blood and blood transplants, etc is the subject of rejection. Now, why does rejection occur?

Before I explain this to you, there is something that I had left out when talking about blood types which I will be adding now which involves the presence of antibodies too: As well as people with type A blood having A antigens, they have antibodies for B antigens. Type B blood contains anti-A antibodies,  Type O blood contains both anti- A and anti-B antibodies and Type AB neither contain  A or B antibodies.

Or in a more simple arrangement:

Type A blood:  A antigens( agglutiongens) ; anti-B antibodies

Type B blood:  B antigens; anti-A antibodies

Type AB blood:  A and B antigens; NO A antibodies and NO B antibodies

Type O blood:  NO antigens; anti-A and anti-B antibodies


Blood type  and antigen


This means that if you had Type A blood (with A antigens on the surface of erythrocytes as well as anti-B antibodies in the plasma), if you were to  . This explains why people with Type O blood are able to give to absolutely anyone as they have no A or B antigens on the surface of the red blood cells for any A or B antibodies in the blood of someone with the other blood types to attach to and therefore for the immune system to attack.

As mentioned earlier on, as well as having either A, B, AB or O blood groups, each group can be either positive or negative. For example, ‘Hello, I’m Mike and my blood group is AB negative!’(Or something like that. You get the gist!). Those with a positive blood group have an extra type of antigen present called RhD.  This means you can be A RhD positive (A-), A RhD negative (A-), B Rhd B negative (B-), etc!


To recap and learn more about blood types, have a look at these links:

  1. ;

Youtube: Multiple Alleles ( ABO Blood Types) and Punnett.

  1. ;

Youtube:  Why Do We Have Different Blood Types?


Youtube : Blood type (ABO and Rh) Made Simple !


Youtube: Blood Part 1- True Blood: Crash Course A&P #29 (Specifically 6:21 onwards).


Mosaic Science: Why do we have blood types?


NHS choices: Blood groups (and to find out a bit about how blood group tests work).