New Ebola Case in Mali Raises Concerns the Outbreak Could Spread

In recent weeks, there's been a hopeful, positive streak of news about the ongoing outbreak of the Ebola virus across West Africa. Despite still being a major public health crisis, and demanding the attention of governments and international aid organizations alike, there have been some encouraging signs that things may be turning around. Even in the outbreak's worst-hit country, Liberia, the government is shooting to have no new Ebola cases by Christmas. But sadly, the highly lethal virus has nonetheless trickled into yet another nation — a new Ebola case in Mali has raised concerns that the outbreak could spread.

While the Ebola situation in Mali is by no means as dire as its been elsewhere — only five people have died there to date — it's nonetheless a worrying sign for pubic health officials to see cases cropping up in new countries. While only transmissible through direct contact with the bodily fluids of a symptomatic sufferer, the Ebola virus has proven highly mobile throughout the outbreak, thanks in large part to substandard health infrastructures.

And it isn't enough to just have occasional instances of Ebola under control — eradication of the outbreak is the endgame health authorities are aiming for. After all, the whole outbreak is believed to have began with just one toddler in southern Guinea. Until Ebola's been cleared from every last place its arisen, there's some level of risk of a resurgence.

According to NBC News, officials in Mali announced in a statement that a new case of Ebola has been confirmed, and that two more people are currently suspected of infection and are undergoing testing. The one patient whose diagnosis has actually been confirmed is isolated and receiving treatment, though they likely face harrowing odds of recovery — over the course of the current outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization have pegged the mortality rate from around 50 percent, to as high as 70 percent respectively.

According to their statement, Mali is now monitoring 310 more people in case they show any signs of the virus. While that number sounds worrying, it's important to keep in perspective — after the diagnosis of Thomas Eric Duncan in Texas, the first case of Ebola on American soil, over 100 people had reportedly been exposed, but none of them fell ill. Indeed, it was only two of Duncan's nurses, Amber Vinson and Nina Pham, who actually contracted Ebola.

John Moore/Getty Images News/Getty Images

In short, there's every reason to hope that Mali's relatively tiny encounter with Ebola can be handled, especially with the whole world's attention focused on the West African outbreak. At the very least, it's clear that international authorities are taking note of the situation, and trying to react assertively — the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response has already announced they're opening up an office in Mali, which among other things will help prevent Ebola from successfully crossing borders.

Image: Getty Images