....and quacks like a duck then Defra's Animal Health Spokespersons are likely to say" they are unable to confirm its ' identity' ".
In a curious follow up to our post below (Spillover into Pigs) political editor Alistair Driver, this week attempted to delve further into the murk of this case for Farmers' Guardian.
Despite the mischievious headline of last weeks' report, the owner of the pigs, Mr. Appleton confirms our post and says he is 'infuriated', by suggestions that the pigs became infected after they drank milk from a local farm.
"It is in no way linked to milk" he said, " The cattle were tested for Tb before the pigs contracted it and were negative. They were tested afterwards to make sure, and again the result was negative. That shows that the milk cannot have given the pigs Tb".
It might be clear to local vets, and most other people - test sources and eliminate them...but remember the duck.
Mr. Appleton explained that the vet who had examined the pigs in March concluded that the site and severity of lesions in head and neck pointed to its having consumed something with Tb.
"There are 10 badger sets on this small holding [in Professor Harris' methodology that's 80 - 100 badgers] and infection is rife amongst the local population."
Mr. Appleton thinks that a sick badger was turfed out by its social group, made its way to a refuge in his pig barn under gaps in the door, and died. He points at that Tb causes a long drawn out and painful death, a point which "these do-gooders in London" fail to understand.
"If you had a cat infected with such a disease, you wouldn't let it die such a horrible death" he said.
But true to form, the Animal Health spokesperson in Defra was sticking to the party line on this one, reiterating last week's damaging, misleading [and eliminated] headline:
"Cattle on this [and a neighbouring] farm have tested negative for bovine Tb. We are looking at all possible sources of infection including unpasteurised milk and wildlife involvement. We do not yet have a definite origin".
One could be churlish and say that if Mr. Appleton is right, the 'origin' has probably been consumed. And having tested the cattle - twice - milk should have been eliminated 3 months ago.
But never overestimate Defra's ability to recognise a duck.