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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
Thomas MALTHUS


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News in biology, evolution and emerging diseases

Last update: 25 january 2019

This page has been initiated in Hong Kong in year 2000, at a time when blogs 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 has shifted 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 25 january 2019. The H1N1 flu virus is at the origin of narcolepsy. 
The origin of narcolepsy, which leads to the uncontrolled onset of sleep, is now understood. It is an autoimmune disease that occurs in a part of the population (carrying a specific HLA marker). It appears as a result of infection by a flu virus strain, strain H1N1, now quite widespread. Since vaccination is not very effective the vaccine does not seem to cause the disease (but it does not protect efficiently). If it were to be improved, the possibility of narcolepsy should be taken into account by selecting vaccine variants, and it would be useful to perform HLA typing of the at-risk population.
arrow 24 january 2019. Misinformation about bats as propagating diseases is driving down important populations of these animals
Our general anthropocentrism is often misleading. While bats harbour many viruses (as we do), some of which able to cross the species barrier does not imply that these extremely useful animals should be hunted down to very small populations. For the time being, perhaps the most worrying family of viruses is that of influenza. There, two (perhaps three) immune groups are really significant: H1, H3 (and H2). While the other groups may lead to dangerous diseases upon heavy infection (H5N1, H7N7, H7N9, H9N2...), they are in fact unlikely sources of pandemics. By contrast, we still should monitor carefully the H3 viruses that infect our pets (H3N8) in particular.
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