In this study, we examined the prevalence, pathology, and epidemiology of tumors in freeranging island foxes occurring on three islands in the California Channel Islands, USA. We found a remarkably high prevalence of ceruminous gland tumors in endangered foxes (Urocyon littoralis catalinae) occurring on Santa Catalina Island (SCA)-48.9%of the dead foxes examined from 2001-2008 had tumors in their ears, and tumors were found in 52.2% of randomly-selected mature (4 years) foxes captured in 2007-2008, representing one of the highest prevalences of tumors ever documented in a wildlife population. In contrast, no tumors were detected in foxes from San Nicolas Island or San Clemente Island, although ear mites (Otodectes cynotis), a predisposing factor for ceruminous gland tumors in dogs and cats, were highly prevalent on all three islands. On SCA, otitis externa secondary to ear mite infection was highly correlated with ceruminous gland hyperplasia (CGH), and tumors were significantly associated with the severity of CGH, ceruminous gland dysplasia, and age group (older foxes). We propose a conceptual model for the formation of ceruminous gland tumors in foxes on SCA that is based on persistent, ubiquitous infection with ear mites, and an innate, over exuberant inflammatory and hyperplastic response of SCA foxes to these mites. Foxes on SCA are now opportunistically treated with acaricides in an attempt to reduce mite infections and the morbidity and mortality associated with this highly prevalent tumor.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)