The observable effects of climate, habit, diet, and other causes, on length of life, have furnished the pretext for asserting its indefinite extension; and the sandy foundation on which the argument rests is that, because the limit of human life is undefined, because you cannot mark its precise term, and say so far exactly shall it go no further, that therefore its extent may increase for ever, and be properly termed indefinite or unlimited.

An Essay on the Principle of  Population

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This page is a sequel of a page developed first in Hong Kong at the HKU-Pasteur Research Centre Ltd then at the Unit Genetics of Bacterial Genomes in Paris. It provides information, some original (this site and this page are open access but Copyleft-protected to guarantee this freedom), but also links that may help you to trace back other relevant information and insight in the topics you are interested in. Not all important information is in English! Chinese, mainly as Mandarin Chinese (Putonghua 普通话), is the language spoken by the most people in the world, followed by Latin languages (French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish...), and then by English (or perhaps tongues from India). In addition, Greek provides most of the words and concepts used in science. Do not refrain from seeking information in other languages. English is not the sole tongue used at this site (see here, for example). more...Understanding biology requires to be able to write or speak about biological facts and concepts. Some reading may be useful. Links to the World-Wide Web are provided to help finding out relevant information. In addition, we refer to our own publications meant to be used as media for communication both of basic and highly specialized knowledge. A page is devoted to genomics, but broader information can be found in The Delphic Boat (2003, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, USA) and in popularisation articles which are cited as needed.
science_history_philosophy by Antoine Danchin

News in biology, evolution and emerging diseases

Last update: 27 june 2016

This page has been initiated in Hong Kong, in year 2000 at a time when what is now named blog did not yet exist. The information presented does not compete with that provided by news agencies such as Agence France Presse or Reuters. It selects information (occasionally not uncovered by standard media). It also informs about History of Science and about the creation of concepts used by modern biology. An important access to the very nature of Science is discussed in a conference given at Zhong Shan University (中山大學) in Guangzhou (广州). You can also follow our E-seminar for ongoing open discussions. Finally, the importance of China is emphasized: the Western world is so dominating in its control of the mass media that this seems of necessity.

This page is now shifting emphasis towards update in genome and genomics studies, because there are a great many prominent sources that need not be duplicated. Many sites provide interesting news about the seasonal flu (type A H3N2 in particular), avian flu (H5N1) and swine influenza A (H1N1). Crawford Kilian's blog, which has now spread to all sorts of other diseases and monitors the Web carefully, is highly recommended. The Center for Infectious Disease Research Policy (CIDRAP), University of Minnesota, and the site of the World Health Organization (WHO) are major sources of information. In contrast with the situation 10 years ago, when not much information was available there is now a wealth of data sources. We only provided updated complementary information here. For H7N9 flu, see the Hong Kong Health Authorities alerts. For the zika virus, information is building up.

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arrow 27 june 2016. Genomics updates: a start . A "Genomics Updates" section is now placed under our responsability in the journal Microbial Biotechnology. A first analysis of the synthetic streamlined genome of Mycoplasma mycoides allowed us to identify a great many of functions deemed "unknown" in this genome.
arrow 2 april 2016. New cases of Ebola affect Liberia and Guinea. While the disease was absent for weeks it reappears. A further outbreak may affect Uganda. At this time the Zika virus keeps expanding with two imported cases in southern China.
arrow 1 march 2016. The zika virus may cause Guillain-Barré paralysis. Discovered one hundred years ago the Guillain-Barré syndrome is an autoimmune paralysis, often lethal, that progressively destroys neuronal electric conduction. Its cause is not known but it has been observed that it begins usually after a mild infection of the patient a few weeks before the onset of the first symptoms. A first sign of this association was observed in december 2013.
arrow 14 february 2016. A possible case of Ebola imported in Vietnam. According to Xinhua news agency a photograph coming from Sierra Leone may have come back to Ho Chi Minh City carrying the Ebola virus.
arrow 3 february 2016. Is the zika virus sexually transmitted ? The zika virus is an arbovirus of the flavivirus family, known since 1947 (isolated from a Rhesus monkey in Ouganda). It is transmitted by mosquitoes of the genus Aedes. Isolated in man in the 1970s in Africa, it began migrating to the east, causing an outbreak in 2007 in the Pacific, then in 2013 in Polynesia. It recently reached South America, then Central America and the Caribbean. Cases are reported more and more to the north. Infected people are rarely sick, but it seems that when the virus reaches the fetus it leads to microcephaly, which makes its spread very worrying. A case has been diagnosed in Texas and it seems that the transmission could be sexual. We know that this route is a transmission mode (and a reservoir) for Ebola. If the information is confirmed then it is very worrying.
arrow 21 december 2015. An outbreak of Zika virus infection develops in Brazil.Zika virus, a member of the Flaviviridae, is an emerging arbovirus. It is spread by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Discovered in Uganda in 1947, it then spread to south-east Asia. Subsequently it spread to the Pacific, and reached South America last year, Brazil in particular, to reach Mexico last November 2015. The corresponding infection is similar to dengue fever, so that it was probably not diagnosed earlier. There now seems to be an apparent correlation with the onset of the outbreak and an epidemic of birth with infants affected by microcephaly.
arrow 8 september 2015. The Arctic western passage is now open to navigation. arctic_west15
This will be for a short time as the minimum extent of Artic ice is about to be reached. A strong el Niño is indeed building up in the Pacific this year.
arrow 28 july 2015. The Arctic eastern passage is open to navigation. arctic_east15
In the meantime it is expected that a strong el Niño will build up in the Pacific this year.
arrow 12 juin 2015. Authorities of South Korea are worrying about expansion of MERS coronavirus infection. Health authorities have now identified 122 patients still confined to a same hospital setting but there are significant chances that the disease could propagate outside.
arrow 21 may 2015. South Korea confirms three cases of MERS coronavirus infection. Health authorities place 64 other persons in isolation. The two latest cases have been found in people who were in contact with the first patient after he returned from the Middle East. This indicates person to person contamination, an important landmark in the spread of the disease.
arrow 26 april 2015. In a fairly calm background, a HIV alert in rural Indiana. Ebola is calming down seriously (but not yet terminated). MERS and H7N9 outbreaks are receding. But in the USA, in rural Indiana a serious outbreak of HIV and hepatitis C prompted the health authorities to launch an alert. This dangerous outbreak seems to result from needle sharing in a community of drug addicts.
arrow 15 february 2015. The MERS outbreak spreads to Asia. Back to the Philippines a nurse appears to have contaminated several persons with the MERS virus. The nurse’s fellow passengers on board the same plane have been located and have agreed to be tested for the virus. Person to person contagion remains limited; however the virus may evolve and the disease would then resemble SARS. Seasonal flu is more severe this year that last year, and H7N9 avian flu keeps developing in China. By contrast the Ebola epidemic is about to terminate.
arrow 17 january 2015. The Ebola epidemic is subsiding, but avian flu is creeping up in China. Two people died of the H7N9 strain of avian flu in Fujian province, where 15 cases have been confirmed since the beginning of the year. Another human infection was reported from Jiangxi. Cases of avian flu infection accelerated in China, with some 310 cases, and more than 132 deaths, diagnosed on the mainland last year.
arrow 29 december 2014. The avian flu alert is raised in Hong Kong. The Serious response level under the government's preparedness plan for influenza pandemic is activated, following hospitalization in critical condition of a patient coming from Shenzhen.
arrow 20 december 2014. New influenza viruses do not kill only humans. Seals have been victims of the H10N7 virus. The Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management communicated that about 3,000 harbour seals have died in Swedish and Danish waters after probably being infected with the bird flu virus H10N7. The pace of the Ebola epidemic is slackening in West Africa. Outside of media consideration the Chikungunya epidemic passed the one million persons affected in central America.
arrow 14 november 2014. Patients infected by the MERS coronavirus escape from hospital. Several patients infected by the MERS coronavirus have fled hospital King Faisal in Taif, Saudi Arabia. This creates a very dangerous situation for creating an outbreak of the disease. Authorities are trying to trace back the patients.
arrow 22 october 2014. Ebola fever appears in all mass media, but MERS coronavirus and chikungunya continue to spread.A patient returning from the hajj has caused a hospital in Istanbul to close its emergency facilities because she was suspected to be infected by the MERS coronavirus. In the mean time chikungunya infections are about to reach one million patients in the Carribeans and it is beginning to spread on the continent.
arrow 28 august 2014. How royal jelly can induce the birth of queens. It is well known that in bee hives deprived of queens, workers begin to feed some larvae  with the famous "royal jelly." These will give rise to queens, and the first among those will kill all its rivals before they hatch, and then focus on the multiplication of offspring for the hive. An Australian-Polish collaboration has just shown that this supply is sufficient for activating an enzyme which removes in the larval genome DNA a series of methyl groups. These DNA tags affect expression of the entire genome resulting in a stable epigenetic modification, differentiating the queen for the workers, where the methylation complement has not been affected.
arrow 20 august 2014. While Ebola fever keeps spreading it is interesting to see how chikungunya is invading America (and Europe). An epidemiological study describes how chikungunya, since its introduction in the Carribean islands in december 2013 keeps gaining ground in America.
arrow 7 august 2014. The Eastern passage between Europe and Asia is open in the Arctic Ocean. Arctic ice kept thawing rapidly (in contrast with the huge ice increase in Antarctica) and it is now free from ice from Europe to Asia via northern Russia.fonte
Several more suspect or confirmed cases of Ebola fever are registered in Nigeria.
arrow 5 august 2014. A second Ebola patient in Nigeria. The Health Authorities in Nigeria have exposed that a second case of Ebola in a doctor who treated a Liberian man who died of the disease last month in Lagos. Several further cases are under investigation.
arrow 2 august 2014. Ebola fever continues to spread. Despite the fact that it should be easy to contain Ebola fever, the disease continues to spread, in regions plagued by misinformation. This triggered an alarmed reaction from the WHO and the CDC, which provided advice for restraining travel in the affected regions.
arrow 21 july 2014. Update on emerging and re-emerging diseases. On July 16, a shepherd died of pneumonic plague in Gansu Province, China. The disease is endemic in marmots. Fortunately, it is not very contagious, but the pneumonic form  remains very dangerous. The Ebola outbreak remains a concern: it can be controlled easily, but fear involves denial, and therefore its spread. It is rumored that the disease appeared in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The MERS Coronavirus is present Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia (KSA) Emirates (UAE) and Yemen. The epidemic appears to have stalled. Various forms of influenza are as yet rather confined in the southern hemisphere, but the presence of the H7N9 virus is confirmed in a number of poultry markets in Eastern and Southern China. The epidemic due to the chikungunya virus spreads rapidly in the Caribbean, and it just reached America.
arrow 19 june 2014. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is now the worse such epidemic that has been recorded. More than 500 cases have been reported, with a death toll of 337. While the Ebola virus is extremely dangerous, and essentially fatal, it is only contagious by direct contact. It is therefore unfortunate that the disease is still spreading in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
arrow 6 may 2014. Yet another flu virus: a man dies from infection by a H5N6 virus in Sichuan. Three types of bird flu - H7N9, H10N8 and H6N1 - infected humans for the first time last year, all in China. About one-fifth of the 419 cases of H7N9 infections were fatal.
arrow 18 april 2014. Ebola in West Africa and MERS in Arabia keep explanding. The new Ebola virus that developed in Guinea is a novel strain. Almost 200 persons have been infected, with 122 deaths. The MERS outbreaks also kept increasing. Flu season is ending in the Northern Hemisphere, and it is expected that the number of new H7N9 cases will decrease.
arrow 4 april 2014. Controversy between the WHO and Médecins Sans Frontières about the outbreak caused by virus Ebola in West Africa. Mass media report that, for some days, an outbreak of haemorrhagic fever caused by the Ebola virus is spreading for the first time in West Africa (Guinea, Liberia, and perhaps Mali). However the WHO reminds us that the disease spreads only via direct contacts, and that the present situation does not yet require a very high level of alert. It is essential to remind people with fever to refrain from having any physical contact with other unprotected persons.
arrow 26 february 2014. FluTrackers reports the details of the increasing number of H7N9 infections in China. As we suggested earlier, it is likely that camels were infected by the MERS coronavirus a long time ago. HK health authorities report that the H7N9 virus has evolved in recent cases, suggesting that it may adapt to humans.
arrow 13 february 2014. More than 300 cases of H7N9 flu have affected China, where a new H10N8 patient is declared. US authorities monitoring animal diseases are concerned by horse and pig coronaviruses.
arrow 26 january 2014. China reports a new case of H10N8 avian flu. The patient, a 55-years old woman from Nanchang, capital of Jiangxi, is in a critical condition, the provincial health and family planning department said in a statement.
arrow 24 january 2014. The chikungunya virus reaches the Carribean. Last month, the Caribbean island of St. Martin reported cases of the mosquito-borne viral illness chikungunya, generally spread around the Indian Ocean. Since then, the virus has spread to several other Caribbean islands, with approximately 500 cases. It is feared that the disease could spread to the continent, possibly via Porto Rico.
arrow 10 january 2014. A huge solar flare has reached the Earth. In conjunction with a coronal mass ejection, a powerful “X-class” solar flare centered over a giant sunspot erupted from the sun on Tuesday, sending radiation and particles speeding toward Earth and disrupting operations on the ground. Ten cases of H7N9 flu were recorded in Guangdong since august last year.
arrow 1 january 2014. A new botulism toxin. A new toxin has been discovered in Clostridium botulinum. Fortunately the molecular information about the gene have been kept confidential. Different strains of C. botulinum produce a variety of toxins causing faccid paralysis. A new study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases describes a novel toxin type, called BoNT/H, on the basis of sequence analysis and the absence of cross-neutralization with sera against the previously identified BoNT (botulinum neurotoxin) types.
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