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Mali declares itself Ebola-free

Mali declares itself Ebola-free
Healthcare workers in Kayes, Mali, get briefed Oct. 25 on the use of protective gear. (Baba Ahmed / Associated Press)

Mali is free of Ebola, the country’s minister of health declared Sunday, saying that 42 days have passed since its last patient tested negative for the virus.

In the outbreak afflicting West Africa — infecting more than 21,000 people and killing more than 8,400 of them, according to the World Health Organization — Mali has recorded eight Ebola cases, six of which resulted in death.

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The disease first entered Mali through a 2-year-old girl from neighboring Guinea; she was diagnosed in the western city of Kayes and died Oct. 24. None of her contacts in Mali went on to develop Ebola symptoms, however.

Just as Malian officials thought they had the virus under control, they became aware of a new cluster. A grand imam from Guinea who sought care at a clinic in Bamako, Mali's capital, died Oct. 27. He had not been tested for Ebola, but a nurse who treated him soon died of the disease, and multiple other cases were also linked to contact with him.

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On Sunday, Mali's minister of health noted in a statement that the country's last known Ebola patient tested negative for the virus Dec. 6.

Still, "Mali isn't completely devoid of risk as long as this epidemic hasn't been conquered at our borders to the south," the statement said, quoting the country's president.

Ebola is spread through contact with infected bodily fluids. Nearly all of the cases reported in the current outbreak, which began in late 2013, have been in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Guinea and Mali share a 500-mile border in Mali's southwest.

Times staff writer Alexandra Zavis contributed to this report.

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