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What diseases do opossums carry?

Dear readers: The below article was written by a freelance writer with no real expertise , so it contains several mistakes. A nice woman who is a wildlife rehabber wrote to me with some corrections. Here's what she wrote:

Possums do NOT carry a plethora of diseases and in fact have a body temperature too low to get rabies. Please learn the truth about possums. The only disease they carry that causes problems is something that affects horses. I have no problem with possums in my yard. They eat ticks and are harmless to most animals. They usually bite as a last resort and usually faint before biting (yes, their playing dead is an actual physiological response, bony a chosen action). Possums have complicated diets and so are not good pets - they are prone to metabolic bone disease and if fed only dog or cat food it will cause them to develop mbd.

Here is the original article written by the freelance writer who lacks real knowledge:

Many articles that you read about the opossum will tell you that these are animals that carry a lot of different diseases and parasites. While only about 25 percent of these rodents carry the most severe kinds of illnesses, all of them have some kind of parasite that can be dangerous to humans and other animals. It is just part of who they are.

But what kind of illnesses do they carry? You have heard that they do carry them, but may wonder what you have to worry about if you come in contact with them. Here are a few of the ones.

The first thing to consider is that it is not just the opossum that you have to worry about. Many of these animals carry such things as fleas, mites, ticks, lice and other insects that will bite people if they come in contact with them. Because they are living on the possum, it means that they are often carrying the illnesses that possums have, so you need to be on guard to avoid even coming in contact with these animals.

One example of a disease that has been transmitted from fleas on an opossum to humans is Murine Typhus. This illness causes a severe infection that can lead to chills, fevers, confusion, sensitivity to light, and vomiting.

Rabies is carried by some possums as well. If not treated immediately, this is a life-threatening illness where the death is slow and painful.

Tularemia comes from bacteria that are inside the opossum. Many different animals can be infected by this, and has been seen that large populations of rabbits and rodents have been eradicated by an outbreak brought by the possum.

Leptospirosis is also a bacterial infection that can leave an array of symptoms that kidney and liver failure, respiratory problems and even death. What is most challenging about this illness is that the initial symptoms look like many other illnesses, and this can mean that it is misdiagnosed at first. By the time that it is properly diagnosed it can be too late.

Toxoplasmosis is the leading reason that a person will die from a foodborne disease in the United States. More than 60 million people in the U.S. carry this parasite but their immune system is able to keep in under control. If, they get the illness from the possum this can be extremely serious.

Coccidiosis is a parasite that gets into the intestinal tract of animals including people. This is spread through the feces of the possum. When touched by a human, even if they walk through it, the parasite works its way into the blood stream, where it can cause serious issues. Many kinds of animals are susceptible to this illness, including your dog and cat. Read more: Opossum Control, How to Get Rid of Opossums, Opossum Feces.

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