What diseases do opossums carry?

If you come in contact with a South Carolina opossum, you might be asking yourself if you will catch a disease from handling them. The first thing that you should keep in mind is that opossums are wild animals and they should not be handled with bare hands. Unless they are causing property damage, the best thing that you can do is to leave them alone.

Charleston opossums, like any other wild animals, might carry diseases. This is why the best thing to do is to handle them with gloves and thoroughly wash your hands afterward. Opossums do not usually carry rabies and there is still unknown indication that they have recurring rabies present inside their bodies. Opossums have pretty good immunity against diseases and it is EXTREMELY rare for them to contract diseases.

The theory is that Charleston opossums have low body temperatures and the rabies viruses do not often find the opossum’s body a welcome host for them. The chemistry of the opossum’s body is simply not deal for common diseases such as distemper. This low blood temperature is said to protect raccoons from venomous snake bites and rabies. However, it is important to note that they don’t contract rabies and dysentery as much as raccoons and rats. They should not be compared to pests such as rats that live in sewers and garbage cans. Although opossums often forage on trash, they can still hunt for other meals including snails and small insects.

Diseases and Opossums
Although opossums have charming exteriors and furry coats, they can still bring diseases through urination and defecation. Their feces may contain small amounts of Salmonella and other viruses. This is especially the case for opossums that grew up on urban areas. If you see urine from opossums in your attic, thoroughly clean it with soap and water and treat it with disinfectant. This can cause diarrhea to you, your pet and your family. There are also the cases of fleas. Opossums can transmit diseases to your pet dog and cat if you are not careful.

What You Can Do
The best thing that you need to do is to prevent opossums from entering your property. In some states, it is illegal to keep them as pets, take them down or relocate them. You have to contact an expert who knows how to handle them best. Opossums are only a threat if they have diseases or they are not feeling well. You can contact your local wildlife rehabilitator for rescue if this is the case.

Dos and Don’ts
You should try to keep the opossum in a safe place. Handle them with care and if help is not arriving soon, you should not let them become thirsty. Feeding opossums can be complicated. If you happen to catch an adult opossum, they are not usually choosy when it comes to food. Feed them with fruits or vegetables. If you caught a baby opossum, you have to remember that there’s a special formula that is used to feed them.

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