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snopes
Return! Return! Return!


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Comment: This may be outside the "urban legend" area, but there are
several websites carrying a silly tale about "flying cats in Borneo".

What supposedly happened: The WHO tried to treat malaria in Borneo by
killing mosquitos with DDT. It worked. But the DDT also killed parasitic
wasps. This increased the numbers of a caterpillar that fed on the
villager's thatched roofs. The roofs collapsed.

Also, lizards eating the poisoned insects were themselves eaten by cats,
who died, causing rats to increase out of control, leading to an epidemic
of the plague. To fix the situation, "WHO was obliged to parachute 14 000
live cats into Borneo".

The story usually ends with a moral about unintended consquences or the
interconnectedness of life. I think Theresa Heinz Kerry once alluded to
it.

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ParaDiddle
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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Not much on citation, but here's one.
http://www.faulkingtruth.com/Articles/GlobalWarning/1009.html

More of the same.
http://www.strange-loops.com/blogarchive200401.html

This is the search page I used.
http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rls=GGLD,GGLD:2005-12,GGLD:en&q=who+malaria+borneo

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Horse Chestnut
Happy Holly Days


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The only part of the story that I don't get is the parachutes. Was there some reason that cat-ladened airplanes couldn't land on Borneo? How do cats release the parachutes after they land?

Hey, wait a minute...rats eat insects, too. How come they didn't all die?

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AndrewR
I Saw Three Shipments


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This story is described in Ecological Aspects of Pest Control in Malaysia (mentioned in a comment on the strange-loops.com blog,) and doesn't require kitty to learn how to pull the rip cord, doesn't support the claim that outbreaks of the plague (or anything else) happened, and doesn't mention how many cats were involved:
quote:
The donated cats were packed in special containers and dropped by parachute over the upland villages.
Luckily, these rat outbreaks did not produce any outbreaks of disease. The major consequence was the villagers' resistance to having their houses resprayed at a later date.

I don't see why the rats didn't get killed, though.
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Chickee Daizy
Live and Let Madai


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The rats probably didn't die in this instance for the same reason they didn't die diring the outbreak of the black plague. Probably, they were carriers but weren't effected by the disease.

--------------------
Some people are like slinkies...They don't really have a purpose, but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down the stairs.

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Horse Chestnut
Happy Holly Days


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But it wasn't disease that killed in this case; it was DDT poisoning, which spread from the insects, to the lizards, and then the cats. Since the rats would have been eating the treated insects as well, then they should have died from DDT poisoning as well.
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Troodon
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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DDT is absorbed into fatty tissue and is neither broken down nor expelled by the body. Thus, as one goes higher up the food chain, DDT concentrations increase:

Assume that each insect weighs 1 weight unit and contains 1 unit of DDT (I am using arbitrary units, obviously.

Say that a lizard weighs as much as 100 insects, and in its lifetime, it consumes 1,000 insects. Now the lizard contains 1,000 units of DDT, for 10 units of DDT per unit of weight.

Finally, assume the cat weighs as much as 100 lizards, and, again, in its lifetime consumes 1,000 lizards. The cat will contain 1,000,000 units of DDT, for 100 units of DDT per unit of weight.

In short, since each lizard eats a lot of bugs, and each cat eats a lot of lizards, and since DDT is not lost during this eating, DDT will build up to high levels in cats (and other predators who are near the top of the food chain - that is why eagles were especially at risk from DDT).

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spriken
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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when rat find a new food sorce they eat only a small amount if they get sick they won't eat it this is why it's so hard to get rid or them.

--------------------
The cat is watching me

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Chickee Daizy
Live and Let Madai


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I don't know what the heck I was thinking in my earlier post. I was just skimming what other people had written because my one year old was climbing on me like I was a freaking tree, chitter-chatting in my ear. I get what is being discussed now...

[fish]

Chickee "Too much going on at one time!!! The story of my life." Daizy

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Some people are like slinkies...They don't really have a purpose, but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down the stairs.

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Gaia
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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I dont know about Malasya. But here in Mexico, because of over cropping and pesticides used, the some towns have been overrun by rats because there is plenty of food (corn). So the governments big idea was ti bring 300 cats, so they asked the general public to "donate" their unwanted cats to the "cause" needles to say, the cats didnt survive the move, the climate (desert), the lack of food, or the big ass rats or poisoned (they ate poissoned food that was left for rats or they ate the possined rats).

Once you screw up the ecosystem, I don[t think you can reapre it as easily.

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Smile....It confuses people!

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timbobmc
Jingle Bell Hock


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quote:
Originally posted by Shiny Happy Horse Chestnut:
The only part of the story that I don't get is the parachutes. Was there some reason that cat-ladened airplanes couldn't land on Borneo? How do cats release the parachutes after they land?

You're kidding, right? Most cats are experts at getting out of collars. Why would a parachute harness prove to be more difficult. I haven't managed to keep a collar on a cat for more than a week in years.

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Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen.

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TB Tabby
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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More importantly, how would you get all those cats out of the plane in mid-flight without having 5 pounds of flesh clawed off in the process?

-TB "And don't they land on their feet anyway?" Tabby

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I like to go down to the playground and watch the kids run and jump and scream, because they don't know I'm only using blanks.

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Hans Off
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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Man, at least The Who tried, didn't see The Stones lift a bloody finger to help!

Hans "Who Huddle*" Off

*10 pts

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"British English speakers point to Americans adding more syllables so that they can make even more noise without actually saying anything." Llewtrah


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BizzarroBuffy
Turkey Largo


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Why send 300 cats to do the job when 2 Jack Russells would have done?
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BizzarroBuffy
Turkey Largo


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Oh Troodon perhaps the rats survived because they multiply faster than rabbits or cockroaches? Perhaps these were not the same rats but all their gadzillion decendants.So maybe some WERE dying from the DDT but not enough for anyone to notice?
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