Winter 2004, picking up where I had left off a couple of years ago... It occurs to me that I should connect up various bits of malaria-related stuff I have in other places:
2001 collection

see under 4 May 2003 entry

PubMed search malaria AND gis and PubMed "remote sensing" AND malaria

Web of Science malaria

SciFinder Scholar malaria

Google "geography of malaria"

Some books in Annie:
AUTHOR       Watstein, Sarah.
TITLE        Statistical handbook on infectious diseases / Sarah B. Watstein 
               and John Jovanovic.
IMPRINT      Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2003.
CALL NO.     SCI REF RA643 .W33 2003.

TITLE        Disease in the history of modern Latin America : from malaria to 
               AIDS / edited by Diego Armus.
IMPRINT      Durham [N.C.] : Duke University Press, 2003.
CALL NO.     RA418.3.L29 D575 2003.

TITLE        The Cambridge historical dictionary of disease / edited by 
               Kenneth F. Kiple.
IMPRINT      Cambridge, U.K. ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2003.
CALL NO.     SCI REF RC41 .C365 2003.

AUTHOR       Honigsbaum, Mark.
TITLE        The fever trail : in search of the cure for malaria / Mark 
IMPRINT      New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002.
CALL NO.     RA644.M2 H665 2002.

TITLE        Emerging infectious diseases : trends and issues / Felissa R. 
               Lashley, Jerry D. Durham, editors.
IMPRINT      New York : Springer Pub., c2002.
CALL NO.     RA643 .E465 2002.

AUTHOR       Humphreys, Margaret, 1955-
TITLE        Malaria : poverty, race, and public health in the United States /
               Margaret Humphreys.
IMPRINT      Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, c2001.
CALL NO.     RC161.A2 H86 2001.

AUTHOR       Desowitz, Robert S.
TITLE        The malaria capers : more tales of parasites and people, research
               and reality / Robert S. Desowitz.
IMPRINT      New York : W.W. Norton, 1993, c1991.
CALL NO.     RA644.M2 D53 1993.

AUTHOR       Harrison, Gordon A.
TITLE        Mosquitoes, malaria, and man : a history of the hostilities since
               1880 / Gordon Harrison ; [line drawings by Wynne Brown]
IMPRINT      New York : Dutton, c1978.
CALL NO.     RA644.M2 H37 1978.

See also pro-DDT views (Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane)

5 February
Some from Ron:

The Tomorrow of Malaria
By Socrates Litsios, Pacific Press, 1996. (181 pages)
ISBN 0 9583418 3 4

(snip) Strategic plans for malaria control shifted dramatically from a broad public health and social approach prior to World War II, where malaria research in areas such as immunity and epidemiology were also deemed relevant, to the WHO's militant-like eradication campaign between 1955 and 1969, where DDT elimination of Anopheline mosquitoes became the dominant goal. Now, with reference to the changing politics of the post Cold War Era, Litsios conveys the message that it is an opportune time to tackle malaria with renewed recognition of knowledge and studies from the past, and where "human development" is also a focus. With this in mind, he carefully scrutinizes directions taken especially by the WHO as the world's leader of malaria eradication and control programmes for almost 50 years. His critical analysis points to conflicting viewpoints that have existed with regards to philosophical approaches, strategic planning, and methodologies. Litsios points out examples where knowledge of the times was overlooked as the WHO's global eradication campaign was designed and implemented; in some cases a sense of urgency overruled practicality; or, Cold War politics dictated its direction. Later, Litsios discusses one of the WHO's current focuses as a primary supporter and patent holder of the widely publicized candidate malaria vaccine known as Spf66. Litsios notes that once the results are available for the latest in a series of large scale trials - conducted in Thailand - that the future of this vaccine candidate "will be reviewed and decided upon." The reader is thus brought up-to-date as the world currently waits at another major crossroads to see in which direction the WHO will decide to proceed.

Litsios' critical accounts are meant to be instructive. He takes his readers through periods of high hopes, confidence, despair, and wonder, as history shows that massive efforts have helped little to avenge malaria - the "King of Diseases," which, as he notes, it was dubbed long ago in ancient Indian literature. The Tomorrow of Malaria is very timely as the 100th anniversary of the August 1897 discovery in Secunderabad, India of malaria in mosquitoes approaches. The past 100 years of discovery, both scientific and personal, are leading to a special period of reflection. Socrates Litsios, who is currently a Senior Scientist with the WHO Division of Control of Tropical Diseases, writes with a sense of optimism as he refers to the WHO's current Global Malaria Control Strategy, a product of the Ministerial Conference on Malaria (Amsterdam, 1992), and the end of neglect noting that this plan is "beginning to yield tangible results." He has hope in "the tomorrow of malaria" as he beckons his readers to be knowledgeable, logical, and responsible when deciding upon the present and future of malaria.

I especially recommend this penetrating little book to anyone working in any area of malaria research or control. This literary work may very well mark a reemergence of malaria scholars and help these fields flourish with accomplished malariologists.

Mary R. Galinski
Department of Medical and Molecular Parasitology
New York University School of Medicine
New York, NY 10010, USA
Published in Parasitology Today [PT 13 (2), 83-84, 1997]

Google malaria eradication history

The Malaria Controversy from UC Berkeley

DDT Ban Myth

17 February

Malaria on the Move: Human Population Movement and Malaria Transmission (Pim Martens and Lisbeth Hall, from Emerging Infectious Diseases)

An apocryphal tale?

Amory Lovins seems to be the most-cited source of this story about cats and Borneo and DDT, though it seems to have appeared first in a New York Times story on 13 November 1969, and cites LaMont C. Cole of Cornell as the source. It smells fishy to me, and its variant forms are just what one might expect of an "urban legend" --in this case, a pretty rural one. Sometimes it's Miri, sometimes Bario, sometimes just "North Borneo"...
When malaria was widespread in Sarawak in 1953, DDT was used to fight mosquitoes - the carrier of the disease. In Bario, a small highland village about 100km [actually quite a bit more... Bario is VERY remote] from the coast of Sarawak, DDT was sprayed in the villagers' timber houses. The deleterious effects of DDT on the food chain inevitably took effect. Insects started to fall to the ground, and the lizards fed on them. The cumulative effects of the DDT, in turn, killed the lizards which were, in turn, eaten by cats. These cats soon died in large numbers until there were no cats left in the village. The rats, of course, had a field day, literally. They ravaged the rice harvest, as there were no cats to stop them. Desperate, the villagers implored on the government officers in Miri to send cats to their rescue. The air force responded by parachuting hundreds of cats into Bario. In related incidents, tiny beetles living in cracks on the timber houses soon devoured their host. Prior to this, the lizards had kept their population under control. With the lizards out of the way, the beetles population multiplied and consumed the houses one by one. The episode inspired an American environmental performer, Alan AtKinsson, to compose a song about it.

Once upon a time in Borneo
There was a U.N. group called the W.H.O.
There were doctors and bureaucrats from every nation
Working for the World Health Organization...

The key word there is "health"

Well they said, "We've come to take care of ya
And cure this bad outbreak of malaria
It's carried by mosquitos you can plainly see,"
So they sprayed the whole countryside with D.D.T.

And the people slept sound in their beds
Till their thatched roofs feel down on their heads
Well, how did that happen...

There's a parasitic wasp whose eggs all hatch
In a little caterpillar that feeds on thatch
But the D.D.T. killed all the wasps at once
And the caterpillar ate the roofs for lunch
That's what you call a rude awakening...

Well the bureaucrats said, "We can fix this up,
We'll put a new tin roof on every hut
We know it's kind of ugly, and it's noisy too,
But it's something that the caterpillars just can't chew"

from the CD Whole Lotta SHOPPIN' Goin' On by Alan AtKisson

Day They Parachuted Cats on Borneo Published in School & Library Binding by Addison-Wesley Pub Co (January, 1971) Author: Charotte Pomerantz

Google borneo cats ddt has many versions of the story. One of them:


By Silver Donald Cameron April 4, 2001 from The Halifax Herald Limited (

At the beginning of an upcoming TV program on -- yawn -- economics, Amory and Hunter Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute tell a sad but funny story. Soon after World War II, the Dyaks of Borneo were suffering from mosquito-borne diseases, so their area was sprayed with DDT. The mosquitoes vanished, but the roofs fell off the Dyaks' houses, because DDT also killed the wasps whose secretions held the thatch together. The caterpillar population exploded, and geckos ate the caterpillars, and cats ate the geckoes, and then the concentrated DDT killed the cats. Now the rats proliferated, creating an outbreak of typhus and plague. In the end, the World Health Organization had to air-drop 14,000 cats into Dyak territory.
The parts that are true, for sure, are that DDT was very widely used in the malaria eradication campaign, and that (as a result) malaria was generally not much of a problem in Sarawak in the mid-1960s. The geckoes (chichak in Iban and Malay) do eat insects, but I'm not so sure about the cats eating the geckoes (I never saw a cat catch a geckoe --mostly the (generally-despised) cats caught mice and rats). So a good story, with a good point, but not necessarily a true story... As for the RAF as the air-droppers, see Beverley XB259 page for some details of logistics (cats are mentioned...), and there's a silly illustration of the alleged airdrop at ...and another variant of the tale at
In 1961 the RAF parachuted 30 cats into Sarawak in Malaysia to try to save the rat-ravaged crops. All the cats were killed.
Skip contributes this bit of knowledge:
Yes, it's true that cats can circumvent our specially designed traps, but we did not realize that they also knew their aerodynamics.

"Why is it safer for a cat to fall from a 32-storey building than from a seven-storey building?

..... "Just ask scientific and medical reporter Karl Kruszelnicki, whose theory is based on a study of 150 cats that plummeted from windows at different heights.

"Falling from 32 storeys, a cat had more time to work out a plan of action, because once it reached terminal velocity and stopped accelerating, it started to relax, he said in Sydney yesterday.

"Once the moggie reached top speed of 100 kmh and realised it was not speeding up any more, it spreadeagled its limbs in the perfect position for maximum wind resistance.

"'Once it reaches the ground, the cat just kisses the ground on all four paws simultaneously and the shock is absorbed,' Dr. Kruszelnicki told his bemused audience at the University of New South Wales during a talk organized by the Alumni Association.

"Of the 150 cats that fell from highrise buildings in New York over a five-month period, 10 per cent died, with the chances of survival rising with the distance of the fall."

It seems that at least one cat per day takes the plunge in New York City, but do they jump...or are they pushed? Dr. Kruszelnicki supposed that some may have leaped at passing birds!

(Anonymous; "High-Flying Cats Have the Big Drop Licked," Wellington, New Zealand, The Dominion, September 17, 1992. Cr. P. Hassall)

For a pretty reliable summary, see WHO Malaria Eradication page

Answer The Day They Parachuted Cats into Borneo (AP Environmental Science, Bryn Mawr) ...and Harvard ditto

another version from World Wildlife Fund (this one says dieldrin, not DDT)

Raining Cats
Malaria once infected nine out of ten people on the island of Borneo. In 1955, the World Health Organization (WHO) began spraying dieldrin (a pesticide similar to DDT) to kill malaria-carrying mosquitoes. The program was so successful that the disease was almost eliminated from the island. But other unexpected things happened: The dieldrin killed other insects, including flies and cockroaches inhabiting the houses. Then small lizards that also lived in the houses died after gorging themselves on dead insects. Then cats began dying after feeding on the dead lizards. Without cats, rats flourished and began overrunning the villages. Now people were threatened by sylvatic plague carried by the fleas on the rats. To remedy the situation, WHO parachuted healthy cats onto parts of the island. In the end, the Borneo episode was a success story; both malaria and the unexpected effects of the spraying program were brought under control. But it shows the unpredictable results of interfering in an ecosystem.

2 February
Harvard Malaria Initiative

malaria articles updater