Declan Butler, reporter This is the personal blog of Declan Butler, a senior reporter at Nature. All views expressed here are mine, and not those of Nature. Contact me at

March 9, 2006

Cat flu — ‘aaargh plop’ , and next-generation GIS

Filed under: avian influenza,GIS,Google Earth — admin @ 12:31 am

I’ve a short article in Nature tonight summarising the situation on H5N1 and cats. I first raised this issue in an article a month back, before the first cases of cat infections in Germany and Austria.

Thought you might enjoy this excerpt.

“But scientists may just be learning what is already common knowledge among Indonesian villagers. Peter Roeder, a consultant for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, says locals have an onomatopoeic name for bird flu “that sounds like ‘plop’, the sound of a chicken hitting the ground when it falls out of a tree. They also have a name for the cat form of avian flu — ‘aaargh plop’ — because cats make a screaming noise before they fall out of the tree.””

Meanwhile, after an all-nighter Monday, I’ve at last finished the 3-page feature that I’ve been working on since my last feature on Google Earth and science on 15 Feb. It will be published on March 23, and though I can’t say more yet, the topic of the next one should be of interest to scientists in almost every field, and those interested in next-generation GIS systems (circa 2020) — it’s mind boggling stuff..

Which means I now have some spare time to finish the rebuild of the avian flu maps. Hoping to complete this early tomorrow, before I fly to Washington for 4 days, as Le Monde will consecrate an entire page to Google Earth in its edition tomorrow afternoon, which mentions the maps.

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