Saturday, November 15, 2008

"Tip of the Iceberg"

Commenting on the performance which the minister of state for (some) Animal Health, Hilary Benn gave last week when he appeared before the EFRA committee, Martin Bell who lives in North Cornwall, makes a good point regarding the numbers of domestic pets being diagnosed with bovine badger TB. His letter appeared in the Western Morning News and highlights the number of pet owners, who may be on the receiving end of badger largesse.
North Cornwall Lib-Dem MP Dan Rogerson misses the point about the small number of domestic pets that are known to have contracted bovine TB.
The official numbers may be low – but to say, as he did, that they are not enough for people to worry about is incredibly complacent.

(To be fair to Mr. Rogerson, we think it was the answer to his question (53) that Mr. Bell has picked up on, and not the question itself. Both Hilary Benn and Alick Simmonds implied all the TB infected cats had been pinching green top milk, to which Mr. Rogerson replied that other free roaming animals were known to have TB - a point with which Mr. Simmonds, somewhat reluctantly we thought, agreed.) Mr. Bell continues:
If the Health Protection Agency thinks there is minimal risk to the public why is there no reference on the HPA website to the Cornwall veterinary nurse and her dog who are believed to have contracted TB from badgers' urine on her garden lawn?
The dog has been put down and top HPA scientists are investigating the case, so why hush it up?
Reported TB cases in South West pets could be the tip of an iceberg because cats and dogs, particularly older ones, are taken to the vet coughing up bloody sputum and are humanely killed without taking X-rays of their lungs or swab tests.
This was story we covered here where we made similar points to those Mr. Bell fears. 42 cats have contracted bTB in the last 3 years, all have been identified as having the spoligotype circulating within their home area.
Our six-year-old labrador developed a coughing illness and the vets assumed he had kennel cough. His breathing became laboured, finally he was hacking up mucus and, despite being given oxygen and adrenaline, he died in a Sevenoaks surgery. To this day we don't know what illness killed him as there wasn't an autopsy.
If Hilary Benn is placing pets, their owners and children at risk of contracting TB from infected badgers because he and his officials are running scared of the Badger Trust, he needs to get his political priorities sorted out pretty damn fast.

Mr. Benn hasn't that much more time in which to prevaricate - when is the next election due??
I am a Labour Party member, but I won't hesitate to give the minister large amounts of grief if he continues to block a cull of badgers because of a bad press from people in woolly hats crawling into badger setts trying to stop TB-infected animals from being gassed.
There's a rather more influential lobby that Mr Benn needs to start worrying about. Pet owners – 30 million of us.

And this splendid broadside is signed:
Martin Bell
Port Isaac


Anonymous said...

What you choose to call a 'splendid broadside' by Martin Bell of Port Isaac is pretty much nonsense IMHO.

Why is there no reference on the HPA website to the Cornwall veterinary nurse? Perhaps he should ask them, but maybe it's because there's no proof of the source yet as top HPA scientists are (still) investigating the case.

And to imply that his dog died of TB caught from a badger when he didn't even bother to get an autopsy done - sheer speculation!

Pretty dumb cats too!
Why not nick the milk before it gets bottled - them green tops are a pesky to get off - much easier before the milk gets bottled! Some folks are even kind (stupid?)enough to provide this beverage for their animals.

So Mr Bell is a Labour Party member who 'won't hesitate to give the minister large amounts of grief'. I bet he worried - not!

Anonymous said...

Well said!