We often see initial media reports of unknown, strange, or `mysterious' diseases - particularly from remote regions of the world - but most of the time these turn out to be relatively common (yet serious) illnesses; measles, mumps, malaria, etc.
The Newshounds at FluTrackers (h/t Pathfinder) have picked up another series of reports - this time from Mali - of an unidentified outbreak in Mondoro, in the center of the country. You can follow their coverage in the thread: Mali - Mysterious disease claims lives in Mondoro, Mopti Region.The details vary from one (translated) report to the next, with anywhere from 10 to 40 deaths cited, and so they must be taken with a sizable grain of salt. Typical of the coverage is this report
The magazine of August 04, 2018: Mopti, an unknown disease makes 40 dead in MondoroAnother report describes the symptoms a bit differently, as:
Saturday August 4th 2018 15:00
A mysterious disease whose causes remain to be determined is causing casualties in the circle of Douentza, Mopti region. According to local officials, this pathology has already killed more than 40 people in the last three months and many people would be infected. According to them, the disease is manifested by the appearance of pimples on the feet that spread gradually over the rest of the body.
Already, there are between 10 to 15 deaths from this disease and a dozen other people would suffer. All that is known is that the symptoms of this disease are, among others, heat in the lower limbs, followed by evolutionary oedema from the bottom up. Most often, these symptoms are accompanied by blackening of the skin.A more recent (translated) report, dated today from a Tunisian TV station (Nessma), reads:
An unknown disease spreads terror in Mali
Monday, August 6, 2018 - 12:11
A disease whose causes are still unknown killed 40 people in central Mali.
The disease occurred in nearly three months in the locality Mondoro (Douentza, Mopti region) and many people would also be contaminated.
In fact, the disease is manifested by the appearance of spots on the feet that gradually spread to the rest of the body.
So far, there are only the NGO Doctors Without Borders, which is engaged in the management of patients.
Note that three villages in the municipality of Mondoro saw the emergence of this disease while the situation in other areas is unknown because of insecurity.
It should be noted that Mali has been reporting an ongoing outbreak of Measles, with the WHO Regional Office for Africa reporting ( a total of 1,166 suspected cases in 2018. Their latest report, however, suggested the overall trend in confirmed cases was downward.
Both Nigeria and Cameroon have reported Monkeypox outbreaks in recent months, but to my knowledge, cases have never been reported in Mali. Surveillance being what it is in that part of the world, that may not mean much.Trying to get good information out of Mali continues to be challenging, as the country is embroiled in what the WHO calls a complex and protracted humanitarian crisis.
Health Emergency Information and Risk Assessment
The complex humanitarian crisis exacerbated by the political-security crisis and inter-community conflicts continues in Mali. More than four million people (nearly a quarter of the population) are affected by the humanitarian crisis, including 61 404 who are internally displaced and nearly 140 000 who are refugees in neighbouring countries such as Niger, Mauritania and Burki-a Faso (data from CMP report, 7 June 2018). The health system is still weak, while the health need is increasing.
The departure of health system personnel and incidents targeting health infrastructure, personnel and health equipment are worsening the existing health system. There are 1.7 million people in need of health assistance in the face of inadequate numbers of health-cares workers (3.1 per 10 000 people, compared to the WHO recommended 17 per 10 000).
While this outbreak is likely to be due to something like measles, or chickenpox, or possibly Monkeypox, areas under these types of stresses are ripe for the emergence of more exotic pathogens, and so we'll keep an eye on what reports we can get.