Identification of a second type of Devil Facial Tumour Disease
The identification of a second type of Devil Facial Tumour Disease highlights the importance of ongoing monitoring of wild populations and disease investigations as part of assisting the ongoing survival of the Tasmanian devil in the wild.
Dr Howel Williams, Director of the Save the Tasmania Devil Program, said although the detection of any potential new threat or risk to the species was a concern, it was important to remember a major response program is already in place that is focussed on combatting a transmissible type of cancer.
“Although it is still in the early days of understanding whether the new type of DFTD will have similar impacts to DFTD, its identification highlights the importance of the co-operative work being undertaken by the Save the Tasmanian Devil program with research partners including the Menzies Institute and Cambridge University.
“It’s important that new diseases or other threats to the Tasmanian devil are identified so we can determine if further measures are required to reduce the potential impact of them on the Tasmanian devil.”
Dr Williams said based on the information so far, the identification of a second type of the disease did not alter the effectiveness or direction of programs currently in place.
“The Save the Tasmanian Devil Disease Program (STDP) has been developed to respond to a transmissible cancer within the population,” Dr Williams said.
“The measures we have put in place with an insurance population, and work towards isolation of wild populations and wild releases has all been developed in response to a transmissible cancer.
“Because of the genetically diverse insurance population we have established that are housed in a number of different environments and at a range of different locations, the species remains secure.
“Its detection is of interest to our research partners at the Menzies Research Institute who will be incorporating this information in to their ongoing work on the nature of the cancer and immune responses to it.
Dr Williams said the disease was detected during routine monitoring by the STDP in the State’s south at the end of last year. The Menzies Institute identified anomalies in the disease.
“Extensive testing and examination of the tumours and cells by the Menzies Institute in co-operation with Cambridge University has now identified that it was in fact a different type of the disease.”
Dr Williams said at this stage only eight cases of the new type of DFTD had been detected and they have all been in the south of the state.
“We have not detected other cases during monitoring in other parts of the State at this stage but will continue to be on the lookout for it as part of our Statewide monitoring program,” Dr Williams said.
“The program will continue to work closely with our research partners as well to identify if any additional measures are needed to our already existing program.”
A link to the abstract of the published article about the The identification of a second type of Devil Facial Tumour Disease of the can be found at:
Please note an update to the content of the paper – at the time of its
writing, only five DFT2 positive devils had been found, that number has
now reached eight.