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Pipe 1.

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. insensibly, one begins to wish facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts"

Sherlock Holmes in A Scandal in Bohemia. Cattle TB source ruled out : - badgers getting the blame Five simplistic, tendentious solecisms; and Completely Erroneous basal Assumptions underpin badgers alleged guilt :-

1. No Cattle Source

Only "Open" Visibly Lesioned lung cases infectious to other cattle or badgers, and so scarce as to be irrelevant (Muirhead 1974; Gallagher 1980 p.86, 94; Dunnet 1986 para 60; Hewson 1987). False positives .. some 2 in 3 reactors do not have visible lesions or detectable M. bovs, so are Unconfirmed cases , Wrongly assumed NOT to have TB .

2. Transmission

Both cattle and badgers often have clear lung tubercle lesions, so spread between the two simply by aerosol respiratory spread ( Corner 2012). However early studies suggest badgers avoid cattle at pasture (Kruuk 1989, Benham 1993), so by default, the most probable transmission was assumed to be by urine, particularly at territorial marker crossing points through linear features (hedges ; Brown 1993, White 1993, 1995). A single bacillus enough for transmission (Respiratory), so badger urine with up to 300,000 bacilli/ ml a potent source .. and perhaps "eructation" ie burping of rumen gases to convert ingested to respiratory lung TB (Mullenax, Waldo).

3.Self-maintaining badger TB reservoir

The wet mild Gulf stream southwest with a long grass growing season and hilly landscape ideal for dairying and badgers .. hence the high density badgers could be the widespread source in the archipelago of intractable "islands" of TB ( SEE Map 2 above).Self-Maintaining via 82 % respiratory spread within social groups, and 18 % by bite wounding between clan territorial fighting (Cheeseman 1989).

4. Culls Work

Early badger culls seemed to result in considerable reductions in cattle TB :- 40 % by gassing (Dunnet 1980); 51- 76 , or even 96 % in the Irish Four Areas Trial (ISG 2007 .. rather ODD if 96 % Donegal, that would leave just 4 % due to cattle controls when in countries without a wildlife reservoir TB is 100 % a Cattle Problem ! In fact, the 96 % difference was due to a flare-up cluster of contiguous herds in the reference area Olea-Popelka 2006); 91 % East Offaly (Eves 1993).

The proposed Pilot Culls in the 2010 Consultation (Annex B, para 20) are based on the ISG conclusions , a 23 % drop inside widespread proactive cull areas, but a 24.5 % rise in outside ring so in a 150 area (with 99 buffer ring = 249, MIGHT have a net beneficial/detrimental effect of preventing 46 out of an expected 292 herd breakdowns (12- 16 % drop) AFTER 9 years.The FERA vaccine model would do half as well, ie 23 breakdowns, ( Whilst, the idea of a 2 km wide vaccination firewall would be neatly ignored by cattle movements, and as daft an idea as badger fertility controls to reduce density : Wonderfully insane solutions to a non-existent problem !).

5. Supplementary Reaffirmation

Since badger "Guilt" established soon after the "First" TB badgers in 1971, Glos & Glamorgan , doubts have been allayed with four new lines of additional data:-

  • A. "A Link" , the same TB strains in badgers and cattle ( Barrow, Grange), amply vindicated by DNA studies (Spoligotypes, RFLP, VNTR ) , Although of course not proving the direction of transmission between the two specias ( Krebs 1997, maps p 97, 173-4; Costello 2006; Gallagher 2009; Bieck 2012). Following the Zuckerman 1980 / Dunnet 1986 reports Proving "A Link"; Krebs 1997 re-discovered the Link, with compelling but circumstantial evidence , and so was careful to state "it is not known if, how or to what extent badgers might realistically contribute to cattle TB ( A view sadly ignored by ISG , 3 of whom were part of Krebs, RBCT result hence interpreted Assuming badgers DO give cows TB, are a major reservoir, so culls DID have positive/negative "effects").

  • B. Low cattle-to-cattle spread , reviews : Griffin 1995; Goodchild 2001; Menzies 2000; Neill 2001. Astonishingly these studies overlook the rather obvious Artifact that the whole point of annual testing is to minimise cattle-to-cattle spread within and between herds !

  • C. An unknown source accounting for some 71- 89 % of herd breakdowns (Wilesmith 1983; Kao 1997; Goodchild 2001 .. Clifton-Hadley suggested 85 % in 1994, but clearly these were Unconfirmed breakdowns which did have TB !; Green 2008 ). By late 1970s, a clear distinction between a southwest badger problem area, and the non-southwest where up to 75 % of a random scatter of breakdowns were of unknown origin, no background TB in cattle or badgers. This same scatter in southwest of "unknowns" which were "thought to be linked to badgers" , but then miraculously at midnight on the 31st December 1978, all these became "due to Badger" see maps in figure 6 !

  • D. Other Domestic stock or wildlife cases clearly sporadic spillovers from cattle ; although high stocking farmed deer and alpaca are an exception (Gallagher 1980; Delahay 2007; Stuart 1988 ). Pigs are very clearly spillover hosts acquiring TB by "dirty feeding" just as in badgers, and dying out when not topped up from cattle .. a useful trace back from abattoir cases in the late eradication stage in USA finding otherwise missed herd breakdowns (Myers 1969) .

    No country ever eradicated TB without tackling the wildlife reservoir ..a politically selective mis-interptretation of the facts :- yes, "anomalous" bovines with social spread just as in cattle include Water Buffalo in Australia, Cape Buffalo in Africa and Wood Bison in North America.. Possums have open skin lesions shedding 5 billion bacilli/gm of pus , so inquisitive nosing by cattle or deer might transmit TB, but in truth unofficially New Zealand admits nearing eradication is down to rigorous area cattle controls, and millions spent on possum control a waste of time. Cattle controls alone DID eradicate TB in Scotland, almost in Wales by late 1980s,and in Ulster , just 174 reactors in 1971 (O'Connor 1986), SEE maps above , and Figure 6; Isle of Wight, Anglesey, even the infamous West Penwith/ Lands End area went clear 1985, but cattle reintroduced TB 1988-9 (Richards 1972). Ironically, Brown Rats are a greater possibile transmission vector, they now out-number the human population .. DID spread avian TB between groups of chickens and pigs; and whilst they do not show overt lung bovine TB lesions, have miliary micro-lesions ie. Yersin's phenomenon, so faecal contamination in food trough dust could be inhaled by cattle (Myers 1940, Francis 1958).

Figure 3