In the futile shade of a stripped tree
The Unicorn tastes the calm water
Born yesterday, she remembers her peer, the Dragon
Igneous, robber of Fire, who rises up
And walks for a moment in the hazy Cloud.
Silent and solitary, she becomes wind
Heavenly Zephyr, here she is embodied
Unexpected kaleidoscope of the rising sun
In the perennial shade of the summer tree.

The Unicorn and the Dragon
Alexis d'Acqueville

Other years

Ebola, elms disappearing, re-emerging diseases 2007-2008

Once posted here, information is purposedly uncorrected (except for spelling mistakes), to be used later as a raw material for a historical analysis of important events linked to diseases. Obsolete links are updated when possible, or removed.

Topics widely covered by the mass media, such as bird flu, are covered here in a very sketchy way. Information is provided "as is" and reflects the perception of the daily events, using available information in real time (using Internet forums in China, in particular, and trying to escape rumors). There may be contradictions from one day to a later one. In some cases links disappear (and when this happens we unlink the sentence pointing to the obsolete link when we are made aware of that fact): for example, on april 23rd, 2003, an interesting link described in details that existing treatments of SARS were inefficient and probably dangerous. This link was cancelled out a few hours after it was created, for unknown reasons.... We hope to understand the cause of this unwanted censorship in the future.

The structure of our societies creates our diseases, reminding us that epidemics are not separable from our way of lifepdf.

  • 29 october 2008. A fifth case of an infection caused by a mysterious virus in South Africa has been reported yesterday. Preliminary analyses suggest that it could be a member of the arenaviruses.
  • 8 october 2008. More than a hundred persons who came into contact with three persons who died of an unknown kind of viral haemorrhagic fever remain under observation in Johannesburg. They all appear to be fine. The seasonal influenza season is approaching. The 2008-2009 trivalent vaccine virus strains recommended by the WHO are A/Brisbane/59/2007 (H1N1)-like, A/Brisbane/10/2007 (H3N2)-like, and B/Florida/4/2006-like antigens. Luc Montagnier present in Abidjan for the inauguration of the conference «Cissida 08», was congratulated by president Gbagbo, who emphasized the effort of Ivory Coast in the domain.
  • 1 october 2008. Diseases which should be eradicated such as leprosy surface again in Senegal. More than 50 new cases have been recently identified, some 30 of which in the region of Kaolack.
  • 28 august 2008. Until the present time avian flu has been pretty calm this year, with significant less human cases than last year. However the virus seems to evolve in a surprising way. An unusual strain has been found in smuggled poultry into Vietnam. A routine investigation detected presence of the virus in a poultry market in Benin (West Africa). In Bangaldesh the authorities are concerned by backyard poultry farming in conditions of very poor hygiene. Burkina Faso is taken by the fever of biofuels, trying to develop cultivation of the Euphorbiaceae Jatropha curcas on a large scale. The plant is resistant to drought, and, as many of this family poisonous to insects (and often to humans). The seed contains a high level of fatty acids which can be used as biofuels. The danger of uncontrolled spread of cultures is that the effect of this plant, comic from Central America, on the environment is totally unknown. Furthermore, competition between food crops, and crops for biofules needs to be evaluated. A conference will be held in Kuala Lumpur in october to "celebrate" the tenth anniversary of the discovery of the Nipah virus. This virus is endemich in South East Asia and related viruses are present in Australia.
  • 14 august 2008. Cholera is endemic in many parts of the world. In Senegal, in the region of Kaolack there are constant outbreaks. Now the capital city of Benin, Cotonou, is affected, with more than 140 patients identified.
  • 11 august 2008. Yellow fever is affecting Ivory Coast for a couple of months. Some cases have also been found repeatedly in Brazil for more than six months now.The suspected cases of bird flu in Indonesia have been a false ala
  • 8 august 2008. The impact of H5N1 avian flu has been significantly lower this year as compared to 2006 and 2007. However, resurgence of outbreaks in Nigeria and in Indonesia, where 13 persons may have symptoms of the disease, show that we should not lower our guard. Dengue fever is developing in South East Asia, in Thailand and Myanmar in particular.
  • 23 july 2008. The world demographic explosion is a time bomb that will explode faster than the climage change. In this context it becomes most important to monitor plant and animal diseases as a variety of crops and farmed animals might be affected. We already know how domestic species may be almost eradicated: the Passe-Crassane pear is almost never seen again (the pear trees were killed by the bacteria Erwinia amylovora), the edible oyster (Ostrea edulis), that was  a treat on gastronomic tables is now small and rare (and an unknown disease appears to be spreading in other oyster species in France), and of course elm trees completely disappeared from Western Europe killed by a fungus carried by an insect. A new fungal disease, caused by the dangerous pathogen Phytophthora kernoviae begins to spread in UK. Starting from Cornwall in 2003, it now reached Wales and Scotland. It may destroy rhododendrons and the European oak and beech trees. It cousin, Phytophthora ramosum, has killed many of the oak trees in the Rocky Mountains, in the USA. In this context it is probably important that some Genetically Modified Organisms are used to mitigate propagation of diseases and pests. Burkina Faso has recently collaborated with industry to create cotton GMOs from local varieties, and the government has authorized planting new areas with the variety as it requires much less pesticides and provides a better yield, preserving the environment while providing better revenues to farmers.
  • 22 july 2008. Multidrug resistant tuberculosis is of great concern, as reminded by the WHO. Among the 150,000 persons affected by the disease 1% have access to the costly treatment, and one expects that each of these person will contaminate 5 to 10 persons per year. It is not difficult to see that this may become of considerable importance in the near future. Tuberculosis is a major cause of mortality in many countries and a recent study suggests that restrictions by the IMF has led to lower health care and spread of tuberculosis in Eastern Europe, emphasising the role of politics in the spread of diseases.
  • 11 july 2008. At a time when one reports a case of Marburg fever in Netherlands in a person who recently stayed in Uganda, the mode of association of the infamous Ebola virus with an antibody of a survivor of the disease is established. This is a first step (which required a huge amount of work, as is was extremely difficult to crystallize proteins of the viral envelope with relevant molecules) to understand how this virus, which codes for only seven proteins, can have such an impact, evading the host defences.
  • 1 july 2008.The Hong Kong Health authorities progress towards complete ban of selling live poultry in open markets. From july 2nd the new rules impose that every animal that has not been sold a day will be culled in the evening, so that no live animals can be taken back once it has gone to open markets. This rule will probably go against the local culture of eating only animals that are slaughtered immediately before cooking. This practice has long been a complex issue in Hong Kong and Southern China.
  • 25 june 2008. Four fatal cases of haemorrhagic viral disease have been diagnosed in central Congo-Kinshasa. Avian flu reappears in Pakistan, while more fatal cases have been identified in Indonesia.
  • 15 june 2008. Possible outbreaks of viral diseases, in particular caused by the West Nile virus, are forseen as an unexpected consequence of the subprime crisis. In some parts of the USA owners abandoned their homes as they skipped out on their spiralling debts, leaving behind pools that became paradise for mosquitoe larvae. This points out (swimming) pools as likely home for insect vectors of dangerous diseases world-wide.Hong Kong has slaughtered all its live chickens except in well-kept breeding facilities to stop the spread of an H5N1 avian outbreak from still unknown origin, at a moment when disastrous floods affect China, Guangdong in particular.
  • 4 june 2008. A team of the Department of Microbiology at the University of Hong Kong, headed by Pr KY Yuen (former co-director of the HKU-Pasteur Research Centre from its creation in 2000 to 2003) has shown using mice that a treatment combining antivirals with two non-steroidian anti-inflammatory drugs considerably decreased the fatal outcome of the deadly influenza virus H5N1. This is particularly interesting in view of the past results obtained in Hong Kong during the SARS episode, where a treatment combining antivirals and steroidian anti-inflammatory drugs was probably in part the cause of the very high mortality in the territory.
  • 22 may 2008. Mosquitoes are the vectors a number of dangerous diseases. They are widespread and extremely difficult to control, as they multiply very rapidly as soon as conditions are appropriate. The use of pesticides has been widespread, but mosquitoes tend to generate resistant strains, and the use of pesticides also kills a considerable number of predators, so that, after some time, the population of mosquitoes increases again, sometimes to unprecedented levels. Other insects are also dangerous but more limited in their spread, and in this case biological control has been used, with considerable success. The general way to proceed is to breed and sterilize males and release a large number of them in the wild, so that the fecundity of the population decreases down to a level were it leads to local extinction. This procedure has been used to control the fairly horrible screw-worm fly (Cochliomyia homnivorax), whose larvae make wounds and eat the flesh of live animals. This fly has been eradicated from the USA in 1982, and after it had appeared accidentally in Lybia, it was eradicated from the region in 1991. Facing a recurrent and developing epidemic of dengue fever, transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, Malaysia is now preparing to fight the disease by controlling the mosquitoes with Genetically Manipulated males of the insect that produce larvae that die early. This approach has not yet been tested and it is difficult to know how it will fare.
  • 9 may 2008.For the first time there is hope that small pox could be easily cured using a drug instead of vaccination. While the virus was supposed to be eradicated in the world, the fact that its sequence is available and new DNA synthesis techniques are developing fast, it was feared that the virus could be used in biowarfare. The existence of an efficient drug would be a strong deterrent to use of the virus by terrorists or rogue states.
  • 5 may 2008. An outbreak caused by enterovirus 71 is causing concern in China as 25 children died from the infection (the death toll has to be placed in perspective, as China has more than 1.3 billion inhabitants). This virus is endemic in hot regions of Asia where is regularly causes severe outbreaks.
  • 18 april 2008. A common mechanism appears to account for the extensive lung destruction triggered by highly infectious viruses such as the SARS coronavirus, the H5N1 fmu virus and other letal respiratory viruses. Penninger and his colleagues in Austria, coordinating a work developed world-wide, found that the response causing extreme reaction is mediated by a receptor on lung cells that initiate the innate immune response, TLR-4. These authors unraveled the complete cascade of events responsible for the letal response, showing that oxidation of the detergent (oil surfactant) that smoothes up the surface of the alveolae activate the receptor and cause an extreme inflammatory response. This observation is extremely important as it will permit a very precise targeting of this process to prevent the extreme reaction that destroys the lungs. Penninger and his colleagues have created the company Apeiron Biologics (based on Anaximander's concept of Απειρον) to apply these discoveries to new treatments.
  • 11 april 2008. A new coronavirus, belonging to the same group as that causing SARS has been discovered in a Beluga whale. Dengue fever is still spreading in Rio de Janeiro, where 79 persons died and more than 75,000 persons have been infected by the mosquito-borne virus.
  • 1 april 2008. The situation of last month outbreaks of avian flu has been summarized at the OIE web site.OIE_H5N1 Most of the outbreaks come from fowl trade. In some cases however, such as the one in Canada, migrating birds are the carriers of the virus. Data from Indonesia keep being missing, placing this country in a worrying situation. In the East of the USA bats are dying off by the thousands. The disease is not yet understood. It is a matter of great concern both because of the role of bats as efficient predators of insect vectors (mosquitoes in particular) and of crop pests, but also because these animals are sentries motitoring possible emergence of diseases in humans. Chiropters (the animal family of bats) are indeed cousins of Primates (nothing to do with Rodents!)
  • 28 march 2008. The World Health Organisation hoped that poliomyelitis would be eradicated early in the 2000s. Unfortunately, cases keep reappearing. A young boy in Douala, Cameroon, has just been diagnosed with the disease. The global situation with H5N1 influenza keeps being similar to that during the past year with Indonesia, Egypt and Vietnam again a matter of concern. The number of multidrug resistant patients keeps increasing in former Soviet Union republics and in South Africa. Simultaneously it appears that the Beijing strain, recognized for some time as very dangerous, is particularly so for some patients with a particular genetic setup as, in their case, the disease tends to spread to the brain, causing fatal meningitis.
  • 27 march 2008. Six years ago investigators reported that aquatic insects could be vectors for the nightmarish but painless Buruli ulcer, caused by a kin of the tuberculosis and leprosy agent, Mycobacterium ulcerans. Last year some of these investigators further reported that the saliva of aquatic insects of the family Naucoridae which transmitted the disease could also have a protective effect. A recent epidemiological study shows that water striders are indeed contaminated by the bacteria as live bacteria could be cultivated from contaminated water striders (Gerris). These insect predators can bite animals, including humans and therefore transmit the disease.
  • 20 march 2008. An international symposium between Fudan University in Shanghai, the CNCBD and EFBIC made a general summary of the situation of infectious diseases in the world, with special emphasis on the cooperation between Europe and China in the fight against this serious menace for mankind. One of the major differences between the form of the influenza virus which is highly pathogenic for birds and for mammals is that it displays a replication phase within the nucleus of the cell, despite the fact that it is an RNA virus. This explains why mutations which could make it responsible for a pandemy are likely to involve the replicase of the virus on surface residues which interact with the host protein importin. The latter indeed transfers the replication system from the cytoplasm to the nucleus, where rapid replication occurs.
  • 13 march 2008. After the death of a child in relation with a disease that might have been influenza the Health authorities in Hong Kong decided to close some primary schools. There is no indication at this time that this may be related to anything like SARS or H5N1 flu.
  • 2 march 2008. Retrospective studies of global epidemics are unfortunately very rare. When the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome rapidly contaminated people all over the world, panick spread rapidly. But a global reaction of heath authorities everywhere contained the epidemic extremely rapidly, a remarkable feat in itself. Perhaps for this reason there has not been many retrospective studies to monitor the way this success was obtained. In particular, death rates in different countries were widely different (about half in China as compared to Hong Kong), and this deserves an in-depth analysis, especially as we cannot assume that no new pandemic will develop any time. Analysis of what happened in the second wave of SARS infection in Toronto is revealing: it now appears that lack of understanding of the role of collective behaviour at hospitals rapidly spread the virus again. Staff meal in common helped the virus spread in a hospital there in 2003. Let us hope that more retrospective analyses will help us understand the weak points of our behaviour, as H5N1 still lingers in many countries.
  • 27 february 2008. Are viruses alive? To this question a deep analysis of what life is gives a negative answer. This is particularly important at the time when Symplectic (Synthetic) Biology aims at reconstructing life. The cell is organised in a way similar to that of a computer that would make computers, made of a machine and of a program. Viruses are pieces of program in a casing that allows them to be inserted in the cell machine. And the metaphor of computer viruses makes us understand how they can spread and circumvent the defenses of the cell-machine whether at the level of the hardware or the software.With this image the evolution of the H5N1 flu virus becomes fairly clear: it can develop well in humans, but fortunately, until now, it is not able to propagate easily from person to person. It keeps evolving however, exploring all kinds of variations, and the risk is that it could find a way to multiply in the upper respiratory track of humans. This depends considerably on the number of infected persons. While for several years now the average number of infections is fairly constant, it may be on the rise this year. A woman died from the disease in the Guangdong province in China, but this corresponds to such a low statistical number that it is not yet really worrying. However the presence of new cases in Egypt, in Vietnam and in Indonesia shows that the disease is far from under control. A young girl has been bitten by a rabid dog in a city east of Paris, in an unexpected case of the disease which has been under control in France for many years.
  • 14 february 2008. Meningitis has reached an epidemic level in Burkina Faso.The H5N1 virus makes a second victim in Vietnam. In this context the situation of Taiwan, which is home for many migrating birds coming from several Asian countries, is remarkable: until now no case of avian flu has been found, whether in birds or in humans.
  • 7 february 2008. In the debate about GMOs the role of natural invadors is usually forgotten. Nature is most oftent more dangerous that artifice. A new web site, DAISIE, recapitulating invadors that begin to plague Europe has been launched recently. Among the dangerous invading species are several vectors for emerging diseases, which will become important with global warming. The food chain might also be poisoned.
  • 1 february 2008. Indonesia bears the heaviest toll to avian flu (101 persons died from the disease) while the virus keeps spreading in West Bengal, where the government does not succeed in slaughtering animals around contaminated farms and the disease is also present in the neighbouring Bengladesh. Several persons have been quarantined, in the event that they might have been infected. An imported case of chikungunya has been recorded in Hong Kong.
  • 23 january 2008. The outbreak of bird flu in West Bengal in India is not under control and the WHO is concerned, considering the situation as serious. A patient died of the disease in Vietnam, and a new outbreak appears in Indonesia. Singapore is affected by chikungunya, with patients apparently infected locally.
  • 18 january 2008. Meningitis, which affects Sahel every year, has already reached an alert level in a county in Burkina Faso.
  • 10 january 2008. The H5N1 avian influenza virus has not yet crossed the barrier from birds to humans. This is why isolated infections do not spread. It is generally admitted that this is due to the fact that the virus hemagglutinin, which allows it to stick to cells and thus permit the virus to enter them, recognized complex charged carbohydrates at the surface of the receptor, and that the structure of these differs in and in humans. A study published in Nature Biotechnology gives a detailed description of the properties of this association. This could be used as a new way to construct drugs that will interfere with the process, as well as allow investigators to monitor the changes in the virus and predict early whether risks of human to human contamination is increasing.
  • 9 january 2008. A patient died of bubonic plague in Madagascar. This reminds us that this deadly disease is still endemic in this large island as well as in many other regions of the world. Human plague episodes usually appears after dead rodents have been seen in the environment, and fleas try to find a new host, infecting humans. Brazil is issuing an international alert about yellow fever after two persons died of the disease in Brasilia.
  • 2 january 2008. Tuberculosis remains a matter of concern as more than 2 billion humans have been infected by the bacteria, fortunately most often without symptoms. The extremely drug-resistant strains that slowly propagate are carefully monitored. USA today reported that a 30-years passenger of a flight from India, who is infected by a resistant form of the disease is treated in California and passengers of the same flight have been asked to contact medical doctors.On the front of bird flu the situation is stable, except in Egypt where one witnessed four deaths in less than a week. The authorities there began to vaccinate fowl against the virus.
  • 21 december 2007. The epidemic of Rift Valley fever is still present in Sudan and health authorities are concerned by the large animal markets that form to mark the end of the year, as possible sources of spread of the disease. In the same region locusts are forming swarms sometimes square kilometers wide, that move from Africa's horn to neighbouring countries, including Kenya, destroying cultures.Avian flu is present at two places in Benin (West Africa) where systematic slaughtering of fowl is underway.
  • 19 december 2007. The Democratic Republic of Congo has closed its frontier with Uganda from fear of the spread of an Ebola fever outbreak developing there. Several tradesmen having recently come back from Uganda have been quarantined.
  • 17 december 2007. Avian flu appeared for the first time apparently in North-West Pakistan, where it killed two persons. Several more persons may be infected. A case has also been identified in Myanmar.
  • 13 december 2007. Emerging diseases come either from variations in the population of microbes infecting a given host, or from change of host, possibly via discovery of a vector. In this context, a study published by scientists working in Australia, and showing that Mycobacterium ulcerans, the dangerous pathogen of the frightening Buruli ulcer is present in mosquitoes opens new avenues for research and shows that propagation of diseases may take unexpected routes.
  • 8 december 2007. The Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection has received notification from the mainland's Ministry of Health that the recent cases of infection of a son and his father by bird flu in mainland Jiangsu province may have witnessed a human to human transmission raising concern of the WHO about a possible new stage of the spread of the disease. The disease also appears to be present for the first time in Benin, in West Africa.
  • 1 december 2007. A new Ebola haemorrhagic fever virus appears to have been discovered in Uganda in an outbreak that affected more than 50 people, according to the Centre of Diseases Control in Atlanta (USA).
  • 19 november 2007. Data derived from the HapMap project of the Human Genome analysis begins to provide insight about the way humans evolve. The "Out of Africa" scenario gains more and more support as new data accumulates. In addition it begins to be possible to tell positive selection from the bulk of the evolution. Association to diseases seems, as could be predicted, to have a strong impact. Indeed the Yoruba sample of the human genome shows that there is a specific alteration of a gene that codes for a component affecting the receptor of the Lassa fever virus. In the same way, the fair complexion of Europeans is under selective pressure, as was postulated from the need of capturing enough light to assimilate calcium.
  • 16 november 2007. While emphasis is placed on  the H5N1 avian influenza virus — with a second possible outbreak in a farm in UK — many other viruses of this family infect animals and humans. An epidemic caused by a H3N8 virus is infecting horses in China and in Mongolia according to the World Organisation for Animal Health. This kind of event should be monitored closely as the passage through another mammal may well precede a human epidemic. In this respect it is most important to identify as early as possible influenza episodes affecting pigs.
  • 11 november 2007. Plague is endemic in Madagascar, and it appears to surface again as pulmonary plague. In Sudan, the WHO informs that Rift Valley Fever has killed more than 80 persons.
  • 10 november 2007. To be prepared for human emerging diseases we need to study, monitor (and control) animal diseases. While mass media no longer focus on bird flu and its dangerous H5N1 virus, the background level of the disease in birds remains dangerous. Human cases keep appearing in Indonesia where a 91st person died, and a new case has recently affected Vietnam. In a less publicized domain the animal disease caused by the blue tongue virus (catarrhal fever) is invading Europe in a scenario that shows that we do not know how to control correctly vector-borne diseases. The virus is a member of the Reoviridae family, and is transmitted by biting midges (Diptera family), in particular Culicoides imicola. First discovered in South Africa, until 1998 the disease was thought to be accidental in Europe. Since then it kept increasing its extent from the South, and it now goes North as far as UK, Germany and the Netherlands. It can now be considered as endemic in Europe.
  • 29 october 2007. Floods that affect many tropical and subtropical regions in the world increase the risk of leptospirosis, caused by Leptospira interrogans bacteria. The disease, which manifests as an hemorrhagic hepatitis (jaundice) is frequently fatal. Several patients are treated at a hospital in Somotillo town in Nicaragua in what appears to be an epidemic of the disease, with more than 200 people affected. In this context the discovery of a protein coded by the bacteria that has a major role in pathogenicity is a promising discovery that could lead to a vaccine.
  • 10 october 2007. The World Health Organisation predicts that a serious epidemic of meningitis may spread in the Sahelian regions after the floods that plagued the sub-Sahara belt. The local governments stockpile the vaccine. Nigeria is apparently affected by a very rare accident related to the live polyomyelitis vaccine. It is known that in very rare cases (1 in several million vaccinations) the virus can revert to a pathogenic form. While this is unfortunate (and shows that before the disease is eradicated one needs to do more research on vaccination) it has to be compared to the number of paralytic cases that have been prevented by vaccination: the figure is of the order of 10,000 prevented paralytic cases for one accident. This accident is particularly unwelcome as it is due to the fact that the vaccination coverage of the population in northern Nigeria has been halted locally because of rumors stating that the vaccine was in fact a conspiracy to sterilize women. Had the children been vaccinated one would have witnessed only at most a handful of cases of the disease, whereas several tens of children are affected at present.
  • 7 october 2007. Emerging diseases are, by definition, difficult to predict. However we possess, when monitoring the fate of animal diseases, some ideas of scenarios that may happen in humans, or propagate from animals to humans. Domestic animals, pets in particular, can certainly be a reservoir for new diseases. And we should probably be concerned by diseases such as the recent of a canine coronavirus that killed pups in Bari in 2005. Interestingly some features of the virus were quite similar to those found in the SARS virus, and show that there can be a considerable shift of the tropism of the virus (from the respiratory tract to the gut and vice versa) in this class of viruses.
  • 5 october 2007. A new case of Marburg haemorrhagic fever appears in Uganda. Cholera, which is expanding in many African countries, has crossed the border between Iraq and Iran, according to the WHO.
  • 1 october 2007. Many of the unfortunately familiar diseases have reached top levels this year. Dengue fever is steadily spreading in Latin America, and it could reach its level of 2002 before the end of the year. The disease is also spreading in South-East Asia, and it has reached the Fujian province in China. Cholera is present in all places where access to clean water is difficult. There is an outbreak in Iraq, which has already contaminated almost 3,000 people. In Sahelian West Africa, the recent floods have resulted in large contamination of drinking water, and one may fear multiplication of water-borne diseases. This is illustrated in Bangladesh.
  • 19 september 2007. A fairly large outbreak of avian flu is developing aqmong ducks in the city of Guangzhou (Canton) in China, while the company Sanofi Pasteur releases information about the success of a flu vaccine that appears to work at extremely low doses. A mild form of the disease (H5N2 virus) appears in Portugal. The outbreak of Ebola fever may not be completely under control in the region of Kampungu in Congo-Kinsasha. The Dhaka Hospital saw record numbers of patients coming through its doors in August 2007 due to crisis flooding in Bangladesh. On the front of food resources: swarms of locusts are moving South West of Yemen. They may cross to he Horn of Africa.
  • 12 september 2007. A new case of foot and mouth disease has been found in the same district as the original one in UK.
  • 11 september 2007. A new outbreak of Ebola fever affects southeastern Congo, where apparently more than 100 persons have died since late august. The disease should be easy to contain if people refrain from touching patients or corpses (this is difficult in a region where the custom is to wash cadavers before burying them). A study by the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) has convincingly established that the related Marburg fever virus is a frequent host of fruit bats. transmission to humans can be expected as these animals are phylogenetically related to primates.
  • 10 september 2007. The final report of Health and Safety Executive on the foot-and-mouth outbreak in UK has appeared. It shows that, most probably, the way waste was treated from the Pirbright site did not follow proper safety rules, and that work in progress associated to heavy rain was probably the cause for the dissemination of the virus in the environment. Strong recommendations are proposed to remedy this unfortunate situation, at the site and elsewhere in the world.
  • 6 september 2007. At least 150 persons have been infected by chikungunya in the Emilia-Romagna province in Italy. Plenty of the mosquito vector Aedes albopictus is unfortunately on the wing there.
  • Previous years at the HKU Pasteur Research Centre

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