Mali has become the sixth country in West Africa to confirm a case of Ebola, after a 2-year-old girl who arrived from neighboring Guinea tested positive for the hemorrhagic virus.
WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib says of the young girl: “She traveled with her grandmother in Guinea and returned to Mali. We don’t have all details of this trip.”
NPR’s Ofeibea Quist-Arcton says there are unconfirmed reports that the toddler’s mother died from Ebola in Guinea. “After that, the child was brought across the border to Mali’s capital, Bamako, before traveling to Kayes, where she was admitted to the hospital Wednesday night, promptly tested positive for Ebola and isolated.”
Mali’s health minister, Ousmane Kone, told state television that the girl’s condition is improving, but the spread of the current outbreak to a new country in the region is a concern. The World Health Organization said Friday that it was sending more experts to Mali to help fight the disease.
“This team is being assembled this morning and will leave for Mali as soon as possible,” Chaib said.
The spokeswoman said three WHO experts were already in Mali evaluating the country’s precautions against Ebola.
According to Reuters, Chaib said Malian authorities are monitoring 43 people who were in contact with the girl, including 10 health workers.
WHO says 4,900 have died of the disease and nearly 10,000 have been infected. All but two cases were contracted in West Africa. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a breakdown here. Earlier this week, Senegal joined Nigeria in being declared free of the disease.
On Thursday, it was announced that Dr. Craig Spencer, a physician in New York who returned recently from Guinea where he was treating Ebola patients for the nonprofit Doctors Without Borders, has been diagnosed with the disease.