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
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
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).
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.
News in biology, evolution and emerging
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
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
University of Minnesota, and the site of the World Health
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
the Hong Kong Health Authorities alerts. For the
zika virus, information is building up.
To display daily news, click on the triangles, or click
on "Show all
news". To go back go to the site Home
page, or to the site
all news | Titles
||15 february 2017.
The influenza H7N9 flu keeps spreading in China .
While the spread is slow it is steady. Several Chinese provinces
closed poultry markets in the hope of taking the disease
under control. According to the government health authorities,
more than 20 people have already died from the disease
across the China since the beginning of December 2016.
||15 december 2016.
Avian H7N9 flu becomes particularly worrying after Macao reports a human case.
This triggered a warning from the WHO as it could start a pandemic.
||4 november 2016.
A new Candida sp fungus emerges as a dangerous pathogen .
Candida infections are fairly frequent. They are a matter
of concern for diabetic patients in particular (glucose
is an excellent food source for this fungus). Unusual
sites of infection were eyes and ears. Several new pathogenic
strains appeared a few years ago in Asia. In
India, in 2013 an antibiotic resistant clone of Candida
in hospitals, triggering surveillance. Since then the disease
spread to Middle East, and a first outbreak has just reached
a London cardio-thoracic center. The strain being multiresistant to
antifungals, this is a matter of great concern.
||27 june 2016.
Genomics updates: a start .
A "Genomics Updates" section is now placed under our responsability
in the journal Microbial
A first analysis of the synthetic streamlined genome of Mycoplasma
mycoides allowed us to identify a great many of functions deemed "unknown" in
||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.
||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
first sign of this association was observed in
||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.
||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.
||21 december 2015.
An outbreak of Zika virus infection develops in
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.
||8 september 2015.
The Arctic western passage is now open to
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.
||28 july 2015.
The Arctic eastern passage is open to navigation.
In the meantime it is expected that a strong el
Niño will build up in the Pacific this year.
||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.
||21 may 2015.
South Korea confirms three cases of MERS
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.
||26 april 2015.
In a fairly calm background, a HIV alert in rural
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.
||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.
||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.
||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.
||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.
||14 november 2014. Patients
infected by the MERS coronavirus escape from
Several patients infected by the MERS coronavirus
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.
||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.
||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
||20 august 2014.
While Ebola fever keeps spreading it is
interesting to see how chikungunya is invading
America (and Europe).
epidemiological study describes how
chikungunya, since its introduction in the
Carribean islands in december 2013 keeps gaining
ground in America.
||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
Several more suspect or confirmed cases of Ebola
fever are registered in Nigeria.
|| 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
||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.
||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.
||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.
||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.
||18 april 2014.
Ebola in West Africa and MERS in Arabia keep
The new Ebola virus that developed in Guinea is a
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.
||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.
||26 february 2014.
reports the details of the increasing number of
H7N9 infections in China.
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.
||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
||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.
||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.
||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.
||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)