"Oh goody, goody! We can go forth and multiply. We and our progeny are really grateful to that nice Independent Scientific Group, which is to provide us with a secure future. What a relief that those nasty vets and cattlemen are to be prevented from removing our expanding habitat. So we can now continue to spread. Sadly, when this spread is to cattle, we risk death by fire or brimstone when they use that nasty skin test. And, when we spread to humankind, they try and kill us off with those nasty antibiotics; some of my mutant friends have learned how to avoid this fate and many are quite taken with this idea.
But at least now we can expect to be safe in the badger. Some of us can remember those bad old days in the 1960s, when we were almost exterminated, but no more. As you know sir, we are not in the least fussy where we live, and now that kind Professor Bourne will allow us to spread and colonise unmolested, at least in badgers.
Signed; Tb bacilli everywhere."
Another letter in the same issue from Dr. Richard Yarnell, CEO of the Badger Trust predictably (happliy?) quotes the ISG tome at length, seemingly unaware of the total failure of past efforts based solely on cattle controls. He also ignores the lack of evidence of the spoligotype spread which would show a different colour pattern - or none at all - if cattle were plastering the countryside with different strains of Tb. It's all cattle he says. So it must be, but at least the Tb bacilli are happy.
Not so the badgers, infected with them though. A robust letter from Dr. Lewis Thomas points out:
"But the recommendation to bear down more and more on the disease in cattle, whilst ignoring the huge reservoir of infection in badgers, defies all logic. It also ignores the chronic welfare problem for the badger."
One would imagine that the "chronic welfare problems" of badgers should be of concern for the Badger Trust as well, or at least its members. But by denying the result of Tb infection and its transmission opportunities in their chosen species, by ommission they support Mr. Fraser's letter quoted above.
And the death or welfare of any species is not a problem for the Tb bacilli. They now have the opportunity to thrive, transmit and expand their host base. And as the letter from H. Fraser says, this is thanks to John Bourne and the ISG.
Epidemiological logic has flown out of the window, past mistakes are likely to be repeated, spill over transmissions are inevitable but the upside of all this is of course, is the TB bacilli are very, very happy.
A humerous letter with an iron-hard message, we think.