Mali came in close contact with Ebola scare in the second half of October. This happened so because a woman decided to save her granddaughters from the deadly disease in the Ebola torn Guinea. She recued them and then took them on a 700 mile journey aboard buses and taxis in order to return home to Kayes, a small city in North West Africa.
Mali’s crisis began early last month, when Aminata Gueye Tamboura, 45, decided she had to act. Her daughter had married a Guinean and moved to southern Guinea, where the outbreak began last year.
The man’s family did not believe the virus existed and rejected medical help, even as relatives began to die, including himself, said Dr. Ibrahima Soce Fall, leader of the W.H.O. team in Mali. Ms. Tamboura’s daughter had to remain in Guinea with a 3-month-old baby because she had to observe 40 days of mourning for her husband, Dr. Koungoulba said.
Ms. Tamboura, the girls and an uncle left Beyla, a small city, on Oct. 18 in a 10-passenger “bush taxi,” and crossed the border the next day. Along the way, the youngest, 2-year-old Fanta Condé developed a 104-degree fever and an unstoppable nosebleed. She later died of Ebola. Health officials feared she had seeded the virus all along the route, potentially turning Mali into the fourth nation engulfed by the disease.
But using old-fashioned detective work, Malian Health Ministry workers, with help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, tracked and quarantined 108 people in two cities and a few roadside towns.
There was even a car chase that included the last bus the family traveled on was stopped on a rural highway, emptied out and disinfected. The 21-day quarantine period since Fanta’s death on Oct. 24 is almost over, and 41 of the 108 Malians in quarantine are due to be released Tuesday, and the remainder by Friday. Since none are showing symptoms, health officials are allowing themselves to hope that their quick response has kept Mali’s first outbreak to a single case.
If so, Mali will join Senegal and Nigeria in having proved yet again that rapid reactions can stop Ebola. In contrast, the initial outbreak in Guinea festered unaddressed for months before it exploded.