Research Article

A transmissible cancer shifts from emergence to endemism in Tasmanian devils

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Science  11 Dec 2020:
Vol. 370, Issue 6522, eabb9772
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb9772

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Emergence to endemism

The emergence of a devastating transmissible facial cancer among Tasmanian devils over the past few decades has caused substantial concern for their future because these animals are already threatened by a regional distribution and other stressors. Little is known about the overall history and trajectory of this disease. Patton et al. used an epidemiological phylodynamic approach to reveal the pattern of disease emergence and spread. They found that low Tasmanian devil densities appear to be contributing to slower disease growth and spread, which is good news for Tasmanian devil persistence and suggests that care should be taken when considering options for increasing devil populations.

Science, this issue p. eabb9772

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