Sunday, January 29, 2006

Gordon Brown attacks Tuberculosis.

"Tuberculosis is now the biggest killer [... ] worldwide, with one person becoming infected every second."

That was just for openers and we hoped that our illustrious Chancellor would have a little more to say about his problems back home.

But no. The finger wagged in true 'teacher knows best' fashion as our Gorrrdon promised action to stop the scourge. But his target was ... the rest of the world.

No mention then of the armies of 'Tb liason' officers rampant in areas of rural Britain, descending on farms under restriction with soothing words but little else. No mention of his Government's commitment to spending £2 billion of taxpayers' money over the next 10 years, NOT sorting the unholy mess politicians of varying hues have created in the countryside of the UK. Not a word about the Tb budget delivering sustainance to academics while condemning both cattle and badgers to an unecessary death. And of course no mention at all of the fact that the UK's appalling Tb status (now the worst in the world) is increasingly coming to the notice of the OIE (Office of International Epizootics) and others, who point out that while a significant reservoir of tuberculosis is allowed to flourish in wildlife, the long term health of the human population is at risk.

As our Chancellor lectures, pots and kettles come to mind.

Tuberculosis worldwide can be seen at this link:


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why you posted this.

I'm no fan of politicians, but GB was talking about human TB not cattle TB.

Of course cattle TB has been spread around the world by livestock movements, just like 80% of bTB breakdowns are in the UK.

The following IS about bovine TB:

RSPCA Takes On Government Over Badger Cull Proposals

The RSPCA is today (Thursday) tackling the Government head-on in a desperate fight to prevent the senseless slaughter of thousands of badgers in England.1

Badgers are protected by law, yet the Government is now consulting on whether – and how - they should be killed. They could be shot, snared or even gassed. And people have until only 10 March to write and object to the proposals2 – killing could start as early as this summer.

In advertisements in the national press today, the RSPCA is urging members of the public to tell the Government to ‘back off badgers’ in the hope that public outrage will prevent the slaughter.3

“The RSPCA believes that badgers are being made the scapegoats for a rise in bovine TB in cattle,” explains Colin Booty, Senior Scientific Officer at the RSPCA. “This is in spite of the latest scientific evidence which indicates that culling badgers is very likely to make the situation significantly worse. The evidence comes from the Government’s own research, which took more than eight years, cost taxpayers £34 million and involved the killing of about 12,000 badgers.”

The results of the long-term Government research project were published in December 2005. Professor John Bourne, the chairman of the Independent Scientific Group which designed the study, has publicly voiced his concerns about the badger cull consultation: “For the first time ever ministers have a robust science base on which to base TB control and they are ignoring it," (Western Morning News, 17 December 2005).

The RSPCA believes that one of the strongest arguments against a badger cull is that it simply won’t work. While there is a link between badgers and bovine TB in cattle, the nature of the link is not clear. A whole range of scientific studies shows that infected cattle are the key source of infection in other cattle. There are 13 million cattle movements in the country each year.

The most effective way to combat the spread of bovine TB would be more – and better – pre- and post-movement testing of cattle, together with strict quarantining of new animals. Because of the current inadequacies of testing, there are far too many undiagnosed cattle moving about the country. Current testing may be missing about a third of infected cattle.

It has also been claimed that culling badgers would be for the badgers’ own good – to save them from a horrible death from TB. But most badgers don’t have TB4 and even those with the disease often show no symptoms at all, living and breeding normally.

There is no reliable test for TB in live badgers. The only reliable test is for dead badgers. This means killing them to find out if they are infected – a very extreme measure if they are not infected after all – especially as the vast majority of badgers do not have TB.4

“The Government is ignoring the scientific evidence in going for a badger cull,” Colin Booty concludes. “The RSPCA hopes that the public outcry will be too great to be ignored."

Details about this campaign can be found on the RSPCA website at


Notes to editors

1. The Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly are taking different approaches for Scotland and Wales. The imminent threat of a cull is to badgers in England.

2. All members of the public are entitled to respond to the current Government consultation and should write to: Bovine TB and Badgers Consultation, Defra, 1a Page Street, London SW1 4PQ or email:

3. More information is available on the RSPCA website at or from the RSPCA regional press officer Jo Barr on 08707538104.

4. The findings of a study of badger road traffic deaths in 7 counties were published in August 2005. The study - conducted for Defra - found that 6 out of 7 badgers were not infected with bovine TB (2,782 out of 3,139 badgers were entirely free of the disease). It also showed that – even in those parts of the country worst affected by bovine TB – most badgers test negative for the disease and there was no clear correlation between the levels of TB in cattle and badgers.

Matthew said...

We said in the post:
..." while a significant reservoir of tuberculosis is allowed to flourish in wildlife, the long term health of the human population is at risk."

We are aware that Gordon Brown was speaking at a conference which discussed the spread and control of tuberculosis in humans.

m.bovis is part of that spread.

The reason for testing cattle is to prevent onward transmission of a very serious zoonotic disease, and abandoning badgers to a death from tuberculosis, with consequent spillover into the environment and other species is frankly, quite irresponsible.

We are also aware of the polarised attitudes to tuberculosis, and the misinformation used to fuel it, which this site has sought in a small way, to dispel.

The losers in all this mess are the badgers. It is true that for the majority of their life they do not 'suffer' - that is the whole point of their success as a maintainence host of the disease. But their last months are dire. Excluded from their group, overgrown claws which mean they cannot dig, starvation and generalised tuberculosis from abscesses throughout their bodies.

The site has covered the skewed figures and inaccurate claims quoted in the RSPCA advert, including cattle movements, quotes taken out of context and post mortems on a very few RTA badgers (excluding those found in fields, barns or in any Krebbs zones)

We have also covered peer reviewed and published works showing spillover tuberculosis in 5 very dead cats who had shared feed bowls with positively identified (DNA) and postemed dead badgers.

Eventually all people who defend the role of tubercular badgers will have to address the ingress of tuberculosis into:
a) herds like 3 contributers to this site who had no 'On' movements of bought in cattle and yet sustained long and expensive breakdowns, and the subsequent ignoring of this sentinel effect of tb in the environment.
b) The increasing and inevitable spillover from that source into the domestic environment: pet cats, dogs, free range pigs, camelids and human beings.

Anonymous said...

'm.bovis is part of that spread'

what a load of old cobblers. You don't know what you're talking about!

Matthew said...

* 'mycobacterium bovis' is one of a group of tuberculous bacteria which affect many species including human beings.

* A confirmed cattle reactor instigates a contact from the Public Health Dept. to offer advice and screening (X rays )

*Veterinary Investigation Centres handling badger carcasses had to spend £thousands updating their facilities to protect operatives.

* Farmers in the Peak District were warned to wear protective clothing when mending stone walls and stiles, as infected badgers used the same crossing places.

* Tuberculosis of any strain is a killer and any country which leaves a reservoir of that zoonosis for its inhabitants to come into contact with is asking for trouble.

All cobblers?

International Institute for the tracking of infectious and emerging diseases 'ProMed' wrote in July ".....the spillover of bovine TB from the highly infected, dense badger population in Cornwall to other species, wild and domestic porcines included, should not be surprising. .... If the current situation continues, it might be only a matter of time before humans are infected.."

But hey, if you think that's all cobblers - good luck to you. What do they say? You can take a horse to water....

Anonymous said...

Gordon Brown was talking about m.tuberculosis. Of course m.bovis can be transmitted to humans and the rest of your bullet points are also true, but by deliberately linking quotes made by Gordon Brown about m.tuberculosis to the current plight of farmers in TB hotspot areas you are spinning in the extreme!! Less than 1% of all confirmed cases of TB in humans are due to infection with M.bovis.

Matthew said...


Tuberculosis (all strains) can be very slow growing in humans. Exposure now, may take up to 40 years to show up as the lesions wall up. But when the body is subject to age, stress or another disease and needs all its immune systems working they will break down, and thus tuberculosis - any strain - becomes a killer.

Anonymous said...

You haven't got a clue have you? Stop trying to confuse the issue by dragging material about human TB into a debate on bovine TB. Human TB is a real problem, it is increasing, but this has nothing whatever to do with the increase in bovine TB in cattle or any other species. The risk to human health in the UK from bovine TB is negligible.

And what the hell is this all about:

"Excluded from their group, overgrown claws which mean they cannot dig..."

I would roll about laughing but for the fact that you are trying to pass off rubbish like this as factual and educational. Healthy badgers naturally have long claws - which they use for digging!!! Check a few road casualties (there are more than enough of them around), you will see that all of them have long claws on their forepaws.

You clearly don't know the first thing about these animals.

Matthew said...

As we said - you can lead a horse to water. We are not going over the same ground twice. Read the comments above. bTb is a grade 3 pathogen - and there are not too many zoonoses that fall into that category. Do you really think all this money is being spent to protect cattle or badgers? Get real. This is a very serious disease - for any mammal, including human beings.
As for 'overlong' claws, check out the pictures of tuberculous badgers on the posting 'A slight wheeziness'. Could he dig with those? No.
These 'super excreters' in the latter stages of tuberculosis, having been excluded from their peer group, tend to find shelter in farm buildings or in short, single hole 'tunnels'. Been there, seen that. And a pretty sight these animals are not.