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Home » Blog » Do Opossums Carry Diseases?

Do Opossums Carry Diseases?

Do Opossums Carry Diseases

Welcome to the intriguing world of opossums! These marsupials, often misunderstood and unique in their own right, might seem harmless, but do they carry diseases? Let's dive into the realm of these fascinating creatures and explore what diseases do opossums carry, common opossum diseases, can opossums carry diseases, and whether opossum diseases transmitted to humans.

Before we embark on our exploration, let's get acquainted with opossums. These furry creatures, scientifically known as Didelphimorphia, are the only marsupials native to North America. With their pointy faces, prehensile tails, and a curious habit of "playing dead" when threatened, they've carved out a distinct niche in the animal kingdom. 

Opossum Diseases: Unraveling the Mysteries

Opossums, as a species, have some unique features in their immune system that make them less likely to be carriers of certain diseases we may find harmful to humans. While they can host various parasites, including fleas and ticks, the risk of direct disease transmission is generally low.

Now, the big question: Do opossums carry diseases? Are they potential carriers of ailments that can pose risks to humans and pets? Let's uncover the mysteries.

opossum is a native american masurpial
Opossums are the only native American marsupial. 

Types of Diseases that Opossums Carry

Opossums, like any wildlife, can harbor diseases. Understanding these ailments is crucial for responsible coexistence.

Rabies: Unraveling the Risk

First on the list is the infamous rabies. While opossums are less likely to carry rabies compared to dogs and to some other wildlife, it's essential to be aware of the risks.

  • Symptoms: Unlike many mammals, opossums have a lower body temperature, making them less susceptible to rabies. However, recognizing rabies symptoms in other animals is vital for understanding the overall risk.
  • Impact: Instances of opossums transmitting rabies to humans are extremely rare due to their unique physiology.
  • Precautions: Even with a low risk, it's crucial to exercise caution and avoid handling any wild animal, including opossums, to minimize the potential for dangerous disease transmission.

Salmonellosis: Bacterial Concerns

Salmonellosis, a bacterial infection, is another concern. Discover how opossums might play a role in its transmission and what precautions to take.

  • Symptoms: Salmonella infection in humans can cause problems like diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. While opossums may carry Salmonella, direct transmission is rare.
  • Impact: Practicing good hygiene, especially after any wildlife encounters, is essential to reduce the risk of Salmonella transmission.
  • Precautions: Avoid direct contact with opossums and their droppings. Wash hands thoroughly if you've been in an area where opossums are present.

Leptospirosis: Navigating Bacterial Terrain

Leptospirosis, a bacterial disease affecting humans and animals, is on our radar. Learn how opossums fit into the puzzle and the potential risks involved.

  • Symptoms: Leptospirosis symptoms range from mild flu-like symptoms to severe illness. Opossums may carry the bacteria but are not the primary source.
  • Impact: The risk of direct transmission from opossums to humans is low. However, avoiding contact with opossum urine and contaminated water is advisable.
  • Precautions: Stay cautious around areas with potential opossum activity, and maintain proper hygiene practices.

Tularemia: Bacterial Intricacies

Tularemia, a disease caused by bacteria, is not to be overlooked. Explore the connection between opossums and tularemia and what it means for your well-being.

  • Symptoms: Tularemia symptoms vary, including fever, skin ulcers, and swollen lymph nodes. Opossums may carry the bacteria but are not the primary vectors.
  • Impact: The risk of direct transmission from opossums to humans is low. Understanding general precautions for avoiding tularemia is essential.
  • Precautions: Minimize contact with wild animals, use insect repellent in areas with potential vectors, and practice proper handling of game meat.

Toxoplasmosis: Feline Connection

Toxoplasmosis, caused by the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, is a concern linked to opossums. Explore the intricacies of this disease and its potential implications.

  • Symptoms: In humans, toxoplasmosis can cause flu-like symptoms. Opossums can be intermediate hosts for the parasite.
  • Impact: While opossums can carry Toxoplasma gondii, the primary concern is more commonly associated with domestic cats.
  • Precautions: Minimize contact with cat feces, as opossums may contribute to the environmental spread of Toxoplasma gondii.

Internal Parasites: A Hidden Challenge

Opossums may host internal parasites, presenting potential risks. Explore the implications of these parasites for both opossums and humans.

  • Symptoms: Internal parasites in opossums can lead to digestive issues. While the risk of direct transmission to humans is generally low, it emphasizes the importance of cautious interaction.
  • Impact: Understanding the life cycle of internal parasites in opossums helps in assessing potential risks.
  • Precautions: Minimize direct contact with opossums, particularly in areas with a high likelihood of parasite presence.

Understanding the spectrum of diseases associated with opossums allows for informed and cautious interactions, contributing to a healthier coexistence with these unique marsupials.

How Humans Contract Diseases from Opossums

Understanding the intricate ways diseases can be transmitted from opossums to humans is pivotal for implementing effective preventive measures. Let's break down the various avenues through which these diseases can potentially reach us.

Direct Contact

  1. Non-Aggressive Nature: When we have provided opossum removal services, we have found that they are generally non-aggressive with people, but direct humane contact poses certain risks, if they feel cornered, could attack anybody up front. Learn about the do's and don'ts to minimize the chances of disease transmission during close encounters.
  2. Handling Precautions: Discover proper handling precautions, especially if you encounter injured or distressed opossums. Understanding the potential risks of damage associated with direct touch is crucial for your safety.
Opossum screaming
Opossums normally avoid human contact, but when they feel threatened, can switch to a more aggressive mood. 

Ingestion of Contaminated Food or Water

  1. Trash Bin Security: Opossums may scavenge through trash, leaving behind potential contaminants. Explore strategies to secure trash bins effectively to reduce the risk of contamination.
  2. Proper Food Storage: Learn about the importance of proper food storage, especially for outdoor pet food. Discover tips on minimizing the attraction of opossums to these food sources.
  3. Water Source Management: Understand how opossums might interact with water sources around your property and steps to safeguard against water contamination.

Inhalation of Contaminated Air

  1. Airborne Risks: Uncover how the air we breathe could play a role in disease transmission. Explore potential airborne contaminants associated with opossums and how to mitigate these risks.
  2. Ventilation Practices: Learn about proper ventilation practices to ensure a clean and healthy living environment. Understand how good air circulation contributes to minimizing airborne disease risks.
  3. Maintaining a Clean Environment: Delve into the importance of maintaining a clean living space. Discover cleaning practices that contribute to reducing airborne contaminants associated with opossums.

By navigating through these detailed points, you equip yourself with a comprehensive understanding of how diseases from opossums can be transmitted. Implementing these specific measures ensures a safer coexistence between humans and these intriguing marsupials. Stay informed, stay vigilant, and proactively contribute to the well-being of both you and your opossum neighbors.

Prevention and Treatment

Now that we've gained valuable insights about infected animals, let's explore proactive measures to prevent and, if necessary, treat potential diseases associated with opossums.


  1. Available Vaccines: Explore if there are vaccines designed to mitigate the risks associated with diseases from opossums. Understand the efficacy and recommended vaccination protocols.
  2. Pet Vaccination: Learn about vaccination options for domestic pets that might come in contact with opossums. Ensure a comprehensive preventive strategy for your furry companions.

Proper Hygiene

  1. Personal Hygiene Practices: Dive into essential personal hygiene practices to minimize the risk of diseases associated with opossums. Discover simple yet effective habits to incorporate into your daily routine.
  2. Property Hygiene Tips: Extend hygiene practices to your property. From cleaning outdoor spaces to maintaining a hygienic environment, discover ways to reduce the likelihood of disease transmission.

Treatment for Infected Individuals

  1. Prompt Medical Attention: In the unfortunate event of infection, understand the importance of seeking prompt medical attention. Learn about early symptoms and when to consult a healthcare professional.
  2. Available Treatments: Explore the treatment options available for individuals affected by diseases potentially transmitted by opossums. Understand the medical interventions and their effectiveness.
  3. Veterinary Care for Pets: If pets are affected, discover the veterinary care options. Learn about treatments available for animals that may have contracted diseases from opossums.

By delving into these preventive and treatment measures, you empower yourself to actively safeguard against potential risks associated with opossum-borne diseases. Stay proactive, stay informed, and contribute to the well-being of both yourself and your surrounding ecosystem.

Living in Harmony with Opossums: Navigating Concerns and Myths

As opossum removal experts, we know that when it comes to these animals, a wealth of misconceptions often surrounds these small creatures. Let's debunk some myths and address concerns related to keywords commonly associated with opossums.

Misconceptions about Disease Transmission

Opossums are often unfairly labeled as disease carriers, with concerns about rabies and other infections. Contrary to popular belief, opossums are remarkably resistant to rabies due to their lower body temperature. While they may carry diseases like leptospirosis or coccidiosis, transmission to humans is rare. In resume, yes, they carry some important diseases, but the transmission to humans is unlikely to happen. Likewise, at Critter Stop, as an expert opossum removal company, we recommend avoiding contact with these animals. 

Opossums and Pets: Coexistence, Not Conflict

Your pets and opossums can peacefully share spaces in your yard or outside of your house. Opossums are generally non-confrontational and rarely pose a threat to dogs or cats. In fact, they can help keep your dog and property free from pests like rats and ticks, contributing to a healthier environment for all.

Urban Opossums: Adaptable and Essential

Opossums are highly adaptable creatures, thriving in both urban and suburban environments. They play a vital role in controlling insect and pest populations, acting as nature's pest control. Understanding their various urban and suburban areas of habitat and respecting their presence contributes to a harmonious coexistence.

opossums in hand
The opossum is a very adaptable animal. They can live in urban and non-urban areas with no problem. 

Responsible Interaction and Opossum Behavior

Knowing how to interact responsibly with opossums is crucial. If you encounter one in your attic, there's no need for concern, maybe is just looking for shelter. Opossums may hiss when feeling threatened, but they are more likely to play dead as a defense mechanism. It's essential to avoid cornering them and give them space to retreat. Their "playing dead" behavior is involuntary and aimed at deterring potential threats.

Garbage Bins and Opossums: Managing the Situation

Opossums are opportunistic feeders, and garbage bins can be a tempting food source. Properly securing your bins can help prevent them from eating contaminated food and making a mess. Taking simple steps, including securing lids and avoiding leaving pet food outdoors, ensures that opossums do not become a nuisance.


As our journey through the world of opossums and diseases comes to a close, let's reflect on the dangers and the crucial importance of taking preventive measures.

Summary of the Dangers of Opossum-Borne Diseases

In recapping our exploration, we've uncovered the potential risks associated with diseases carried by opossums. From the rabies virus to leptospirosis, understanding these dangers is fundamental to fostering a safe environment.

Importance of Taking Preventive Measures

In conclusion, our coexistence with opossums demands responsibility. Taking preventive measures isn't just about personal safety; it's a shared commitment to the well-being of both humans, domestic animals and these unique marsupials. By embracing simple yet effective practices, we ensure a harmonious and healthy living environment for all.

At Critter Stop, we have provided opossum removal services thousands of times in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, helping our community deal with these visitors. If you need some help with this, call us now at (214) 234-2616. Our team will be ready to answer all your questions and set an appointment to give you a free inspection of your house,

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Lee Gorman
Lee Gorman
13:50 21 Nov 22
I’d give a 10 star review if I could! We had a great experience with Critter Stop. Everyone I dealt was friendly, professional, and reassuring. Phillip was very helpful and knowledgeable about the work he was doing. He walked me around the entire house to make sure I saw and understood the services he provided. He was also really nice and answered all my questions — he is exactly the type of person that should be interacting with customers.I love the fact that they will come back for up to 1 year after installation if any problems occur — this shows me they stand behind their work.The owner was great too, he personally came to my house and walked me through their offering. I recommend critter stop to anyone and everyone!
Susan Casey
Susan Casey
14:53 15 Nov 22
Critter Stop is a fantastic business! Everyone involved is extremely professional and very easy to communicate with. Chisam, the owner, did a great job of explaining the process to get the squirrels out of my attic during the initial free estimate. The exclusion crew who did all of the initial work was fabulous. The crew consisted of Phillip, Nick and Corey who arrived promptly when they said they would. They are happy, positive employees. Everyone is very polite and patient in explaining their work and answering questions. They came back several times to check the traps and finish it off with the fogging. Lester was very good about following up to schedule each trap check with me, and the office staff who took care of the billing was very efficient. Critter Stop is a well run company with honest, trustworthy employees! Thank you to all of you who worked hard to make my attic critter free and for the peace of mind that you guarantee your work. Great to know I can call them if for some reason a squirrel figures out a way to get back in!
Karen Eckholdt
Karen Eckholdt
14:54 22 Sep 22
Critter Stop has made this project easy and extremely professional from start to finish! They are very detailed and competent from start to finish and know so much about their business. They made a problem easy for us and at a reasonable cost. We would be happy to recommend this company and their owners and staff to anyone.
Aaron Echols
Aaron Echols
13:51 03 Aug 22
The guys at Critter Stop responded quickly, were very friendly, and gave us an honest estimate of what we might need. They explained why some items on other quotes were or were not necessary. They communicated well to get us scheduled, and did the work well and quickly. Great service at a fair and competitive price.
Jacob Scribner
Jacob Scribner
19:23 27 Jul 22
Brandon and his other coworker Gavin came to install insulation in my attic. I am very grateful for the hard work and professionalism. My house feels a lot better with the insulation installed. 5 star review. Cory Leach was also very nice and helpful. He came to my house to do another job and was very attentive and professional. Thank you Corey and thank you Critter Stop for helping me.The owner very polite and helpful, I’m glad I found this company to help me.
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