News This 1348 painting shows how plague devastated European cities like Florence

Black rats are also implicated in both outbreaks, which took place 800 years apart

Your Questions: 'My cat has turned into a crazy feline and attacks my ankles every time I walk past'

Q. I have a six-month-old, female, British short-haired cat. We had been getting along just fine, but recently she's turned into a crazy feline. Nearly every time I walk past her she attacks my ankles. I don't know what do to. Any suggestions? Steven, via e-mail

Bacteria outbreak kills baby in neonatal unit

A baby has died and six others were in isolation last night after an infection broke out in a hospital's neonatal unit.

Baby dies in hospital bug outbreak

One baby has died and six others were in an isolation ward tonight after a bug hit a hospital's neo-natal unit.

Takeaways targeted in 'Food Standards Agency' scam

As obvious targets for extortion scams go, the humble city-centre cafe would not seem to be the most likely choice for con artists.

Tania Sanchez: Fight germs: eat mince pies

In the month leading up to the 25th of December, a woman who lived the first half of her life in tropical Saigon – and who happens to be my mother – will drag a purchased fir tree into her cosy California home, where winter weather means a millimetre of morning frost on the windows that disappears by 9am.

Increase in asthma linked to Caesareans

Eight-year study of 3,000 children finds 80 per cent rise in risk

Why (some) women don't scrub up as well as men

In matters of personal hygiene, it is men who are viewed as the grimy sex while women strive to keep them scrubbed. But a survey has revealed that female cleanliness is a myth. Women were up to three times more likely to have dirty hands than men.

Salmonella outbreak warning

Food safety experts were last night trying to trace the source of an outbreak of a new strain of salmonella that has spread throughout the British Isles.

US scientist had purified anthrax

US Army scientist Bruce Ivins had sole custody of highly purified anthrax spores with "certain genetic mutations identical" to the poison that killed five people and rattled America in 2001, according to documents unsealed today in the government's investigation.

Steve Connor: A potential battlefield killer – and a weapon of mass hysteria

Anthrax is an acute infectious disease caused by a bacterium, Bacillus anthracis, which can form highly resistant spores that can lie dormant in the soil for many decades. It has been extensively investigated as a potential biological weapon by Britain, America, Iraq and the former Soviet Union, although it has never been used in open warfare.

Last Night's TV: The good doctor laid it all on the table

Just don't expect me not to snigger, that's all. I know we're supposed to be grown-up about these things and that today's children are, notionally at least, growing up hideously ignorant about sexual health and that it's a thoroughly good thing that Dr Alice Roberts is giving us a brisk introduction to our reproductive organs to kick off her series Don't Die Young. But when she talked about "my user's guide to the male reproductive organ", I'm afraid I couldn't repress the unruly boy slouching on the back row who wanted Miss to explain precisely what she used it for. Was she going to offer star ratings? Handy tips for the novice handler? Small boy piped up again when she delivered one of her pieces to camera from the crotch of the Cerne Abbas giant and, I regret to say, when we were introduced to her male guinea pig, an events organiser called Mark Smallman. With a name such as that, Mr Smallman must have had a very wearying time in his teenage years, but he can now lay the past to rest. His testicles, we have it on sound medical authority, are an excellent size, and the sample of semen he had tested looked as busy as a municipal lido in the middle of a heatwave. As in the lido, there always seems to be one maniac, head down and doing a splashy sprint from corner to corner.

Microcosm: E.coli And The New Science Of Life, by Carl Zimmer

From soiled nappies comes a tiny wonder – with a giant role in genetics

Paperbacks: Match Wits With the Kids, by Jonathan Green

Though based on the yawn-making "Key Stage 3 of the National Curriculum", this jolly compendium will enlighten all who dip in.

Householders told to boil water after safety alert

Thousands of people were warned to boil drinking water today after a contamination scare.

The 5-minute Interview: Gregg Wallace, food expert and TV presenter

'I'd like to have been a rugby player, then a history professor'
Career Services

Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform