He Might Just Be The Answer Tick Born Illnesses
Tick born diseases are becoming a serious problem in this country as people increasingly build homes in formerly uninhabited wilderness areas where ticks and their animal hosts live. Tick born diseases can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites. Most people become infected through tick bites during the spring and summer months.
In 1896 the first disease transmitted from a tick was identified as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and since then, many more have evolved.
Many of those diseases can be found in the United States, one of those being Lyme disease which was first discovered in 1970 in Connecticut and sense spread throughout the country even to Hawaii.
Opossums get a bum rap. They often get blamed for things that they don't do—like tipping over garbage cans, but like scientist Rick Ostfeld points out that few ticks survive a run in with an opossum. These animals, often called filthy, are actually remarkable groomers and spend almost all of their free time grooming themselves. Ticks are attracted to these mammals, but most of them never survive on an opossum’s body long enough to taste a single drop of blood.
“So these opossums are walking around the forest floor, hoovering up ticks right and left,” Ostfeld explained, “killing over 90% of these things, and so they are really protecting our health.”
Possum Posse bragged about the opossum’s powers of fighting our tick foes after reading a study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
“The new paper’s authors, Keesey et al., caught a range of tick hosts — white-footed mice, eastern chipmunks, gray squirrels, opossums, veeries, and catbirds — and experimentally infested them with ticks. They found a huge range of tick success across the six host species: almost half of all ticks introduced onto mice were able to feed, while only 3.5% of ticks introduced onto opossums were…Wild-caught opossums carried an average of almost 200 ticks — if that’s 3.5% of the ticks that try to feed on a opossum, then that means each opossum had attracted, and eaten, up to 5,500 ticks!”
Many people use the rabies excuse for ridding their properties of opossums, but that justification is a false one. According to Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, opossums are “rarely found to be rabid and appear to be resistant to many viral diseases such as distemper, parvovirus, and feline hepatitis” and this resistance to diseases is also seen with Lyme. The Poughkeepsie Journal reports that opossums don’t seem to be very good transmitters of Lyme disease even if they didn’t eat almost all of the ticks they encounter.
Ticks do transmit Lyme disease, and Lyme affects around 300,000 Americans a year. An opossum, normally viewed as nothing more than a filthy nuisance – stealing garbage, garden surplus and chicken eggs – kills over 5000 ticks on any given week. This super exterminator also kills venomous snakes and small rodents and cleans up carrion from our yards and fields. Perhaps allowing opossums to also steal some chicken eggs and garden veggies is a fair trade for decreasing tick-borne diseases like Lyme and all of the other benefits they offer.