Monday, 2 April 2012

Welsh Government cancels its badger cull, surely England must follow suit

I know this is old news now, but I am just saying a big 'hooray' that Wales has decided to cancel its proposed badger cull, and instead focus on combating TB in cattle through vaccination of badgers and farm hygiene measures. This is an excellent move, since there was no evidence at all that a cull would have been effective, and some evidence that it may have made bovine TB worse - not to mention nearly exterminating a protected species. The move also puts additional pressure on DEFRA to abandon is ridiculous and unscientific culling plan that will see farmers authorized to shoot badgers in the open at night time.

On a wider note, I hope that moves to vaccinate badgers will lead to a more serious appraisal of how we deal with the idea of vaccination in cattle. As I understand it cattle are culled if they have a reaction to TB test, which test for a response to TB antigens. Essentially what this shows is that they have been exposed to the disease at some point in their lives, and developed antibodies. Trouble is that most have no symptoms, so basically the odds are that in culling those with immune response but no symptoms, you are culling the most resistant members of the herd, those who might naturally fight off the disease. It is for this reason too that cattle cannot be vaccinated - because immunized animals will test positive in an anti-body test. Imagine a situation where you killed all those humans who tested positive for measles, but who never developed symptoms.. you are genetically selecting an increasingly vulnerable population...

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