January 23 2006
An email received today on the subject of badgers and bovine TB:
The suffering of these delightful animals is immense and it is something the Badger groups and Wildlife Trusts fail to acknowledge. It is perfectly true that for up to 8 years the badger can thrive, maintain body weight, rear cubs (and infect them too) all the while shedding tb.(Matthew is one of the team that writes the Bovine TB Blog (opens in new window)
That is why this animal is such a successful host of the disease.
But it gets them in the end and the results are an affront to anyone who calls themselves an animal lover.
Starvation through generalised TB is their main exit, with animals crawling about, half their target body weight, overgrown claws so that they are unable to dig and are forced to seek shelter in barns and cattle sheds. Recently, one entered a bungalow through the cat flap, and the householder found it curled up in the cat's basket. Defra wildlife teams retrieved it, and confirmed it was not a 'small, young one' but a grossly underweight adult in the latter stages of TB.
ProMed are correct Mary, (See warmwell bovine TB pages) re spillover into humans (and/or their pets - 24 cats in Cornwall in the last couple of years) from an increasingly grossly contaminated environment. We are not talking a lightweight dose of flu here. This is tuberculosis - and by killing the sentinel cattle without listening to the song they are singing, government are exposing more and more of the population either directly, or via their pets to a seriously infectious zoonosis.
If the National Coal Board had strangled their sentinel canaries, and then exposed teams of miners to increased levels of lethal fire damp, a charge of gross negligence would have been levied at them. Is their a difference here?
The only good thing Bradshaw has done this February, (apart from a ficticious 'consultation' on culling badgers which contains in several places the words "Valued and cherished" when referring to tubercular badgers but emphasises "Valued and slaughtered - at vast cost to the taxpayer" re. cattle!) is to make tuberculosis 'Notifiable in any mammalian species" . The public are being negligently misled into believing the m.bovis loop affects just cattle and badgers. It does not.