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December 27 2012

Raccoon Tumor Outbreak May Give Cancer Clues

Raccoons rarely get tumors, so when 10 of the creatures with the same type of deadly growth turned up around Marin County, California, pathologists took note.

The raccoons all had been submitted for a routine necropsy after they were seen acting strangely before they died, wandering in the daylight and approaching humans. Researchers discovered that rabies, often the culprit for such symptoms, didn't seem to be the problem. Rather, these raccoons all had brain tumors that extended from the olfactory tract to the frontal lobe. Pathologists suspect the growths were caused by a newly described infectious agent, dubbed raccoon polyomavirus.

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