I had originally planned to write a spoof combining all three, but in fact there is a connection to be made between the first and last: according to a recent report, bovine tuberculosis has begun to spread into the West Bank.
Until recently, Israel has been clear of the disease. But it's certainly not clear of badgers. According to the IUCN, the Eurasian badger, meles meles, our beloved British Brock, is found in northern Israel down to Haifa, and the honey badger, mellivora capensis, is all over the State, so their geographical distributions overlap to a degree. It's not inconceivable that if the brocks of the eastern Med have TB, they may indirectly have transmitted it to honey badgers, and so on to cattle.
But why does bovine TB matter? It can spread to humans, but aside from breathing in the exhalations of infected animals, or negligent hygiene when handling them or processing their meat, or drinking their untreated milk, the risks are low. If present in meat, the bacterium is killed by cooking.
The Rural Economy and Land Use Programme (RELU) cites none of these in its explanation of why bTB is a concern, saying instead:
Why does bovine tuberculosis matter?
The increase in the number of herds affected and the spread of infection across the UK has impacts upon:
— Farm productivity.
— Mental health and wellbeing of farmers, frustrated by control programme culling of apparently healthy cattle.
— Health and welfare of animals, because effort is focused on the control programme, rather than on the development of good herd health strategies.
— International trade agreements, if herds testing positive reach a critical level.
— Public expenditure, at a time when budgets are under extreme pressure.
Seems like all except the first are to do with drawbacks of the control programme, rather than the disease. Not enough to justify the mass slaughter of meles meles, perhaps.
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