Opossums are the saviors of humans against lyme disease — don’t make them roadkill

Danny Cox

Many people don't give a lot of thought to some of the forest animals that may be crossing a road or trying to scurry out of the way as a car comes speeding around a corner. Well, there may be a lot more thought given to opossums, now that they have been connected to being the saviors of human beings against Lyme disease.

As the Poughkeepsie Journal reported, opossums are an American marsupial that have a name which most people can't even pronounce correctly. Yet, here "Lyme disease goes to die."

Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases are most prevalent during the warmer spring months, such as May and sometimes April. It is possible for them to come about at other times of the year, too.

The Lyme disease-carrying ticks are often found in large numbers of mice, shrews, and chipmunks, but they are often eaten by opossum.
Research done by the scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies have placed different species into cages for experiments. At that point, the species were covered with ticks and the researchers waited for the arachnids to jump off, and then counted how many survived.

In staggering numbers, opossums ended up removing or eating as much as 96 percent of all ticks that land on them. Rick Ostfeld, from the Cary Institute, explained that opossums are actually the "unsung heroes in the Lyme Disease epidemic."

"Because many ticks try to feed on opossums and few of them survive the experience. Opossums are extraordinarily good groomers, it turns out – we never would have thought that ahead of time – but they kill the vast majority – more than 95% percent of the ticks that try to feed on them. So these opossums are walking around the forest floor, hoovering up ticks right and left, killing over 90% of these things, and so they are really protecting our health."

Not many people know a lot about Lyme disease, but it became quite well known when Yolanda Foster revealed she was battling it. The star of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills has struggled with issues with her health for some time now, and it has gotten to the point where she can't function or read.

Some doctors may argue that Lyme disease doesn't exist, but whatever it is that those ticks bring about, opossums help battle against it.

When it comes to your driving down a road surrounded by forests, or even if you just happen to see a opossum walking around, you may not always want to approach the animals, but try to leave them be, as they are one of the key factors in helping to fight against the ailment known as Lyme disease, and some others as well.

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