The first case of Ebola was recorded in Mali on October 24 when a 2-year old girl, Fanta Conde, developed Ebola symptoms within a bus traveling back to Mali from Guinea and eventually died of the disease. This singular incident made Mali the fourth African country to experience Ebola aside other West African countries like Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria. But one thing: the 2-year girl’s case appears to be the only case of Ebola to ever be recorded in Mali.
And the reason for this is not far-fetched: none of the persons that had primary contact with her and currently in quarantine is showing any symptoms of the disease even after a near 21-day period in isolation. 108 persons are in quarantine and 41 of them will be released Tuesday and the remaining by Friday. And this development is presently beating the imagination of health authorities who think people that had close contact with her should come down with infection; but it also underscores another fact: that Ebola is not contagious until a patient starts showing symptoms.
Fanta Conde had been with their mother in Guinea, but her grandmother feared they would be overtaken by the ravaging Ebola and therefore traveled down to bring them back to Mali. She ended up only bringing her two grand-daughters. It was a 700-mile journey and the little group had traveled by a network of buses and taxis to get back to Kayes in northwest Mali.
But little Fanta had suddenly developed 104-degree fever along the way, and she soon started having a nose-bleed. She also had diarrhea and vomiting before dying. And since health officials believe she could have passed the disease to others along the long journey, all the occupants of the bus were quarantined and officials of the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also helped to track people in roadside towns the group traveled through. The health officials even chased up the last vehicle the family traveled in before joining the present bus, and they emptied out the vehicle and also disinfected it.
According to Dr. Rana Hajjeh, leader of the CDC team that worked to isolate suspected persons that had contact with the little deceased Fanta, “I’m actually feeling very good right now. We feel reassured that most of the danger is over.”
But this underscores the fact that the government of Mali is able to stop Ebola in its track because of a quick response initiative facilitated by CDC and WHO officials. Mali now joins Nigeria as a country that has effectively stopped the spread of Ebola before it can do any further damage to its people, and this is something other countries of the world might want to emulate.