Today Mali reported its second confirmed case and subsequent death from Ebola.
An imam from the Guinea border town of Kouremale died on 27 October from an Ebola-like disease two days after appearing at the Pasteur Clinic in Bamako, the Malian capital of 2 million people. Unfortunately, Ebola was not suspected, and the man was never tested.
His body was ceremonially washed in a Bamako mosque, and then returned to Guinea. It is feared that if indeed he was infectious, many mourners and other contacts could have become infected (in both Mali and Guinea).
A nurse who cared for him at the hospital became ill, tested positive for Ebola virus two weeks later on 11 November, and died later that evening. More than 90 possible contacts have since been placed in quarantine, and the clinic has been locked down.
The first case reported in Mali was a two-year-old girl who became infected at a funeral in Sierra Leone but subsequently died in Mali after traveling there with her Grandmother. No other cases in Mali have been traced back to the girl, and her known contacts have completed their 21-day quarantine period.
Likewise, the imam translocated from across the border in Guinea. Therefore, the nurse was probably the third Malian case, but the first person known to have contracted the disease within Mali.
We have discussed the roles that the traditional rituals of the Poro and Sande societies play in the spread of the virus, but this case illustrates that the neighboring Islamic rituals, particularly funerary customs, are also possible disease vectors.