Exposure to raccoon polyomavirus (RacPyV) in free-ranging North American raccoons (Procyon lotor)

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There is evidence that raccoon polyomavirus is causative for neuroglial brain tumors in the western United States. It is unknown if infection is limited to geographic locales where tumors have been reported or is widespread, like human polyomaviruses. We demonstrate raccoons in western, eastern and midwestern states have been exposed to RacPyV by detection of antibodies to capsid protein, VP1. While raccoons in eastern and midwestern states are seropositive, exposure is lower than in the western states. Additionally, across geographic areas seropositivity is higher in older as compared to younger raccoons, similar to polyomavirus exposure in humans. Serum titers are significantly higher in raccoons with tumors compared to raccoons without. Unlike polyomavirus-associated diseases in humans, we did not detect significant sequence variation between tumor and non-tumor tissue in raccoons with tumors compared to those without tumors. This warrants further investigation into co-morbid diseases or genetic susceptibility studies of the host.




Church, M. E., Dela Cruz, F. N., Estrada, M., Leutenegger, C. M., Pesavento, P. A., & Woolard, K. D. (2016). Exposure to raccoon polyomavirus (RacPyV) in free-ranging North American raccoons (Procyon lotor). Virology, 489, 292–299. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.virol.2015.11.033

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