Ebola outbreak: Two-year-old dies of virus in Mali

Mali is now the sixth West African country to record a case of the disease.

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A two-year-old girl who was Mali's first confirmed case of Ebola has died, according to a health official.

The official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters that the toddler died in the western Malian town of Kayes at around 4pm (GMT), where she was being treated in isolation.

The toddler had travelled from Guinea to Mali with her grandmother and tested positive for Ebola on Thursday.

Earlier on Friday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said it is treating the situation in Mali as an emergency, amid fears the girl was bleeding from her nose during her journey on public transport and may have infected other people.

The WHO said that the pair had passed through several towns in Mali on their trip from Guinea and spent two hours in the Malian capital of Bamako before reaching Kayes.

While Ebola is not airborne and therefore cannot spread in the same was as illnesses like the common cold, contact with infected bodily fluids or organs, including blood, can be highly dangerous.

"The child's symptomatic state during the bus journey is especially concerning, as it presented multiple opportunities for exposures - including high-risk exposures - involving many people," the agency said.

The girl's diagnosis was delayed after she tested positive for typhoid. When her condition failed to improve, she was also tested for Ebola.

An initial investigation by the WHO identified 43 people, including 10 health workers, that the girl came into close contact with who are being monitored for symptoms and held in isolation.

Mali has long been considered highly vulnerable to Ebola's spread since it shares a border with the Ebola-hit countries of Guinea and Senegal, and staff from WHO and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention were already there helping to prepare for a case.

The Ebola outbreak was identified in Guinea in March (as the gallery above shows) and has since spread to five other West African countries and killed over 4,900 people.

The virus has also been imported to the UK, Spain and the US.

Additional reporting by PA and Reuters