We all love raccoons. In fact, I don’t think that I have ever heard anybody say that they don’t like raccoons, and I doubt if I ever will. Raccoons are cute, they seem lovable, and now they are helping researchers uncover some of the mysterious about cancer.
It has been known for quite some time now that many raccoons from Northern California and Oregon are developing brain tumors. The tumors could be linked to an unidentified virus. This previously unidentified virus was first documented by researchers with the University of California at Davis. The researchers are hoping to find a link between viruses and cancer, and if one can cause the other.
The researchers at Davis who originally found the virus operated on the raccoon carcasses in order to ascertain what killed them. Amazingly, all of the raccoons had a tumor, that is nine out of ten of them anyway. All of these raccoons were found in upstate California, and one in Oregon. What makes all of these raccoon brain tumors similar is the fact that they all contain a largely unknown virus called the polyomavirus. Experts now believe that polyomaviruses cause other health problems, like tumors, or possibly cancer.
This is all strange because raccoons hardly ever get tumors. Animal control units, as well as veterinary offices are required to notify others when they get three or more of the same animal with the same cause of death. However, in the most recent case, there was an eventual total of twelve raccoons that had the tumors. Doctors are still attempting to find out what, if any, influence polyomavirus has on tumor formation. Unfortunately, raccoons do not serve as the best medical models due to their short lifespans of around two to three years.
Have you ever seen a raccoon in the wild that was acting strangely?