Opossum Rabies

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In the wild, many animals risk getting infected with rabies. We are going to discuss how it can be dangerous for humans and why it can be incredibly important to make sure that you don’t get infected with rabies yourself. Unfortunately, possums are one of several animals that can spread the disease to humans, but there are ways to protect yourself from this dangerous infection.

Opossum Rabies

It is rare for opossums to catch and spread rabies, but the risk is possible. Opossums are not an ideal species to carry rabies, primarily because they have a much lower body temperature than many other wild animals that live in the forest. Humans should be careful if they believe that a nearby opossum has rabies because the infection could be fatal if received. 

In the following sections, we will discuss how opossums can spread rabies and whether or not any signs could indicate that an opossum may be infected. The best way to protect against rabies is to never receive the infection in the first place. There are safety precautions that you can take to ensure that you never catch rabies from an opossum or any other animal in the wilderness. 

How Often Do Opossums Spread Rabies?

If you are looking for a quick and straightforward answer, then you’ll be glad to hear that opossums don’t spread rabies very often. In fact, it’s extremely rare and nearly unheard of. The reason for this is that opossums don’t have a body temperature that can easily sustain the transfer of the infection. 

Other animals are warm-blooded and can easily transfer rabies because this process makes it easier for the rabies infection to survive. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should ignore the low risk of capturing rabies from an opossum. While it is incredibly unlikely, it is still possible and the side effects of catching rabies can actually be deadly. 

Opossums have a body temperature that rests around 95ºF. Which is slightly colder than several other types of animals that carry rabies. For example, raccoons and foxes carry rabies because their body temperatures are slightly warmer. Foxes have an average body temperature of about 101ºF, while a raccoon averages a body temperature of 102ºF. This slight increase in their internal body temperature is enough to easily spread the rabies infection, compared to opossums, where it is much more challenging to do so.

A study done around 2013 tested multiple test groups of animals for rabies, including reservoir animals, out of 71 cases of rabies from multiple animals, only 2.8 % were represented by opossums (2 rabid opossums.) Source.

Opossum rabies – Video.

Do Opossums Show Side Effects Of Carrying Rabies

Any animal that has the rabies infection will usually have a lack of an appetite and can sometimes be foaming from the mouth or drooling excessively. This holds true for opossums as well, even though they are much less likely to carry and spread the disease. 

There is some evidence that animals can be more aggressive when carrying rabies, but this doesn’t seem to always be the case. There have been cases where animals have spread rabies while showing no signs of aggression. 

Perhaps the most dangerous circumstances are when an animal shows no side effects of carrying rabies. This could lead a human to think that they are not at risk of being infected. It’s possible for there to be no side effects, just as easily as there could be an overwhelming number of side effects. It’s a case-by-case situation that needs to be carefully evaluated.

How Does Rabies Spread From An Opossum To A Human?

Rabies is spread from an infected animal to a human in several different ways. The most common method of spreading rabies is with an animal bite. While opossums are not at the top of the list of risky animals that might be carrying rabies, they can still spread it to humans by biting them. 

Foxes and raccoons have higher body temperatures and may be more likely to spread it to a human through an animal bite. Simply touching an opossum or being nearby an infected opossum would not be enough to transfer the rabies infection into your body. 

Being exposed to rabies is very rare, especially when you factor in that opossums are the host animal. It’s almost impossible for the rabies virus to survive in their body. Humans should always ensure that their safety is prioritized, but it’s pretty unlikely that you would ever be at risk of catching rabies from an opossum in the wilderness. 

Do Opossums Carry Diseases for Dogs

Animals who carry rabies put domestic pets in danger. This is true for dogs and opossums. If the dog comes into contact with an opossum infected by rabies, there is a chance, even if it is a small one, that it could transfer.

If you think that you see an opossum displaying signs of rabies, then you should protect yourself and your pets, by bringing your pets inside and keeping your distance from the animal that you believe to have rabies. One way to help prevent your pet from getting rabies is by vaccinating them. Source.

Why is rabies dangerous for humans?

Catching rabies is extremely rare and extremely dangerous. Most people ultimately face death after catching rabies and not taking any sort of treatment before the infection spreads. 

Why is it unlikely for opossums to catch and spread rabies?

With a low body temperature of only around 95ºF, it’s much less likely for rabies to spread and survive in an opossum’s body. Other animals are much more likely to carry it and spread it, especially if they have a higher internal body temperature.

Chad Fox