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Emerg Infect Dis. 2013 Jan;19(1):77-84. doi: 10.3201/eid1901.121078.

Novel polyomavirus associated with brain tumors in free-ranging raccoons, western United States.

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University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


Tumors of any type are exceedingly rare in raccoons. High-grade brain tumors, consistently located in the frontal lobes and olfactory tracts, were detected in 10 raccoons during March 2010-May 2012 in California and Oregon, suggesting an emerging, infectious origin. We have identified a candidate etiologic agent, dubbed raccoon polyomavirus, that was present in the tumor tissue of all affected animals but not in tissues from 20 unaffected animals. Southern blot hybridization and rolling circle amplification showed the episomal viral genome in the tumors. The multifunctional nuclear protein large T-antigen was detectable by immunohistochemical analyses in a subset of neoplastic cells. Raccoon polyomavirus may contribute to the development of malignant brain tumors of raccoons.

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