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Update on the devil facial tumour in Tasmania

McGlashan, ND, Obendorf, DL and Harington, JS 2007 , 'Update on the devil facial tumour in Tasmania' , European Journal of Oncology, vol. 12, no. 2 , pp. 75-80 .

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A forum of some eighty research scientists, all with
concern about the infectious, malignant disease
affecting Tasmanian devils (devil facial tumour =
DFT) was held in Hobart in February 2007. Wide
agreement was expressed about the extreme impact of
the condition, with likelihood of the devil becoming
critically endangered or even facing extinction in the
wild within 10 to 15 years. The gradual diffusion of
DFT into western parts of Tasmania, where it has not
yet been recognised to date, now seems inevitable.
Definitive transmission experiments that corroborate
the allograft cell transfer theory have been attempted
but the results have not been published. No early diagnostic test for DFT has yet been developed so that
visibly obvious tumours are the sole criterion for
recognising the condition which has proved fatal in
every known case. Nor, according to Tasmanian
Government field biologists, is there any sign of
recovery or natural immunity in residual devil
communities in which DFT has now been known for
over a decade. Approaches to retaining disease-free
populations of wild devils are continuing. A field
experiment is underway on Forestier Peninsula where
all visibly DFT-affected devils are being euthanased
with the aim of managing the spread of DFT and
maintaining a depopulated 'buffer' between diseased
and currently disease-free devil populations on the
linked Tasman peninsula. Another approach being
explored is the placement of populations of wild disease-free devils on one or more suitably-sized offshore islands. Difficulties with this programme of rendition of disease-free devils to these islands or to other biosecure sites are discussed. The development of a protective vaccine against DFT is being considered to ensure in the long-term the future of the Tasmanian devil.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:McGlashan, ND and Obendorf, DL and Harington, JS
Keywords: Tasmanian devil facial tumour (DFT), infectious malignancy, disease control measures
Journal or Publication Title: European Journal of Oncology
Publisher: Mattioli 1885 - Casa Editrice
ISSN: 1128-6598
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