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Tuberculosis and Badgers

This was one of the strangest news items in my inbox this week.  Apparently, British cattle are catching tuberculosis from the local badger population.  Now, the only thing that I thought the two animals had in common was their coloring… but I guess they must hang out together with sufficient frequency to pass on TB infections.

In fact, one BBC News report suggests that farms with larger hedges had lower rates of cattle TB infections… presumably because the hedges kept the badgers from fraternizing as much with the cows.  This finding provides a nice alternative to badger culling, a practice that the animal rights folks do not endorse.

But what does this mean for humans?  Well, according to the CDC, cattle TB (caused by a special strain of mycobacterium – M. bovis) has been virtually eradicated in the US due to herd culling and milk pasteurization methods.  Cattle TB doesn’t tend to infect the lungs, so it’s less transmissible via droplets and such.  So even if you’re in England and Bessy the cow sneezes on you, you probably won’t catch TB.  But if you drink Bessy’s unpasteurized milk or cheese products, you’ve got yourself a risky situation.  As for badgers – they’re not very affectionate anyway, so I wouldn’t try to befriend them.This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

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2 Responses to “Tuberculosis and Badgers”

  1. RH Host Melissa says:

    Oh my gosh!!!  What a very bizarre story!!

  2. RH Host Melissa says:

    And I don’t think I’m friends with any badgers, lol.  The only ones I even “know” are from Disney movies, lol. 

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