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Ebola spreads to West African nation of Mali, where vaccine experiments have been taking place

Ebola outbreak

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(NaturalNews) Health officials in the West African nation of Mali have confirmed that the country has its first case of Ebola, becoming the sixth one in the region to be afflicted by the deadly outbreak, the worst on record, in which nearly 5,000 have died.

Ousmane Kone, the Malian health minister, said on state television that the patient was from the western town of Kayes -- a two-year-old girl who had recently come from neighboring Guinea, where the current outbreak began.

"The condition of the girl, according to our services, is improving thanks to her rapid treatment," the minister said, as reported by Reuters.

Separately, a health ministry official who requested anonymity, told Reuters that the girl's mother had died -- ostensibly from Ebola -- just a few weeks prior. The official went on to say the child was brought to the Malian capital of Bamako by relatives, where she remained for 10 days in the Bagadadji neighborhood before she was taken to Kayes.

Reuters further reported:

A ministry statement said the girl, who came from the Guinean town of Kissidougou, was admitted at the Fousseyni Daou hospital in Kayes [recently], where she was promptly tested for Ebola.

People who came into contact with the patient in Kayes have been identified and placed under watch, the minister said, but he appealed to any person who believed they may have had contact with the girl to step forward.

Vaccine trials taking place with U.S. companies

The overwhelming majority of the over 10,000 cases of Ebola who have died from the disease have been from the three hardest-hit nations of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, the World Health Organization says.

Other nations have experienced smaller outbreaks, and they include Senegal, Nigeria and now Mali. Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation, but the WHO says the country is Ebola-free.

Still, most officials believe that the number of deaths has been dramatically underreported; WHO has reported recently that the real death toll could be three times higher.

"A completely separate outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo in central Africa also appears to have been contained," Reuters says.

Mali is also home to Ebola vaccine experiments, Reuters reported in a separate story:

Healthcare workers in Mali have been given an experimental Ebola vaccine as part of the first human trials of the shot in West Africa, where three nations are battling the worst outbreak on record.

The trials are part of a program to identify and roll out vaccines within months, compared with the years usually needed, in an effort to find a way to protect against a disease that has killed at least 3,865 people.

Vaccine trials are widening

The newswire further reported that three Malian staffers were given the vaccine, with an additional 37 due to get it in coming weeks, quoting a statement from the Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) at the University of Maryland, the institution carrying out the trials in cooperation with the government of Mali.

GlaxoSmithKline is manufacturing the test vaccine, which is being co-developed with the U.S.-based Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

"This research will give us crucial information about whether the vaccine is safe, well tolerated and capable of stimulating adequate immune responses in the highest priority target population, healthcare workers in West Africa," Myron Levine, director of the CVD, told reporters.

"If it works, in the foreseeable future it could help alter the dynamic of this epidemic by interrupting transmission to healthcare and other exposed front-line workers," he added.

Health officials are also planning Phase I trials on healthy volunteers in Gambia.

Learn all these details and more at the FREE online Pandemic Preparedness course at www.BioDefense.com






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