While doing research on opossums on the Internet, I came across several articles on opossums. One was by Ted Schultz and the other was by Robert G. McClean. These articles were very helpful in giving me information on this animal. There has been much said about the opossum; much to my surprise I found out that most of the information was false. The one thing that I found that amazed me was that a person has a greater chance of getting any type of infection that an animal might carry from a household pet than from an opossum. Opossums, like cats and other animals, can get infested with fleas and thus may carry diseases, but so may your household animals.
The type of disease that fleas carry is called murine typhus. Murine typhus occurs in humans when they have a flea bite that has been contaminated with fecal material that has been shed while a flea eats. The symptoms that a person may experience include severe headaches, fatigue, fever, muscle aches and a rash. Murine typhus is preventable with an effective flea control program for your pets and the elimination of rodents.
Another disease that opossums may carry is one called Chagasí disease. This disease kills about 45,000 South Americans a year. This disease is extremely rare in the United States, with only three cases diagnosed here. Opossums are among 100 mammal species which are susceptible to this disease. The Virginia opossum is rarely infected with this disease because the disease is so rare in the USA.
Another disease that people tend to think of when dealing with the opossum is rabies. The opossum is highly resistant to rabies and therefore very rarely carry the disease.