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But, despite widespread coverage, there are still many false preconceptions about the disease. Human-to-human transmission of the Ebola virus occurs principally by direct physical contact with a sick person.

For humans to contract the virus requires direct contact with bodily fluids, blood and secretions.

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Though some patients do haemorrhage - the virus’s correct name is EVD (Ebola haemorrhagic fever) - many do not.In fact, the disease often starts out like a case of flu.The image of people drowning in their own blood, undoubtedly, is a terrifying one, but it is not a definitive representation of all Ebola cases. Previous outbreaks of Ebola have been brought under control.Since the first reported case of the disease in 1976, there have been over 25 recorded outbreaks – all of which have been contained.Staff have been looking after the female caiman, which they have named Snappy the Christmas Crocodile, feeding it a diet of rats and mice.

Mr Wick said he was more than happy to keep caring for his latest visitor, which is capable of growing to 8ft.

"We'll have her here for a few days then if no one comes forward, she'll probably go to somewhere like West Midland Safari Park," he said.

"She's in good health so has clearly been looked after." Mr Wick has contacted the police to find out whether there have been any reports of missing crocodiles but to no avail.

However, he has his own suspicions about what has happened.

Pauline Cafferkey, a female healthcare worker who returned from west Africa on Sunday, has become the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the UK.

She arrived at the Royal Free Hospital in London on Tuesday morning for treatment.