Cancer Virus in Raccoons

More raccoons survive rabies with shotsIt’s just 10 raccoons. Let me make that clear up front. There were 9 in California (north of San Francisco) and one in Oregon. But a paper in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases has generated a bit of publicity.

The paper describes a virus that has caused brain cancer in these raccoons. It’s notable because brain cancer, or any cancer, is rare in raccoons.

Nothing is known about where the virus came from (another animal host species, or humans) or if it infects other animals, there are some scientists, though, who are willing to speculate. (See the blogs at the bottom of this post for the speculation.)

I put this out there simply as a new thing that is killing raccoons, which is very different from the other things that generally kill raccoons — even different from other raccoon diseases.

Read the Wired blog story here.
Read the Discover blog story here.
Read the Huffington Post story here.
See the paper here. (It’s open access.)

Photo: a healthy raccoon, courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service.

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