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Opossums…friend or foe?

possums on a branch

 

Opossums…friend or foe?

 

Before everyone shouts "FOE!", consider this:  Opossums are one of our greatest allies in the war on ticks.  No, really!  The diet of the opossum include snakes, snails, slugs, mice, rats and carrion…and TICKS.  Their appetite for the tick is practically insatiable.  It is estimated that one opossum consumes up to 5,500 ticks in a single week. (We did not add an extra zero on to that number.  It really is 5,500 ticks per week!) Ticks transmit Lyme disease which affects around 300,000 Americans every year.  While you may think that the lowly opossum basically knocks over trash cans in the dark and likely carries rabies, think again.  Opossums are rarely found to be rabid and if the price to pay for tick control is a tipped trash can every once in a while, then perhaps we should consider that a fair exchange.  The DFW Wildlife Coalition sums it up nicely:

"When left alone, the opossum does not attack pets or other wildlife; he does not chew yhour telephone or electric wires, spread disease, dig up your flower bulbs or turn over your trash cans.  On the contrary, the opossum does a great service in insect, venomous snake, and rodent control.  He takes as his pay only what he eats and maybe a dry place to sleep.  The possum tolerates other pets, our cars, prodding sticks, rocks and brooms.  'Attacks' by possums are simply non-existent.  When he gets too close or accidentally moves into your attic space, he can be easily convinced to move along.  If you are lucky enough to have one of these guys around, you can rest assured he is cleaning up what he can and will soon move along to help someone else."

Want to learn more?  Read the whole article at the Inquisitor here:  http://www.inquisitr.com/2106782/opossums-the-unsung-heroes-against-lyme-disease-and-other-tick-borne-diseases/ and cut the opossum a break.  He is more than likely doing much more good than harm!

Fleas and Ticks

They’re creepy, they’re crawly…and they can carry diseases. Fleas and ticks are not just a nuisance, but pose animal and human health risks. They suck your pet’s blood, they suck human blood, and can transmit diseases.  Some of the diseases that fleas and ticks can transmit from animals to humans (zoonotic diseases) include plague, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, bartonellosis and others.  That’s why it’s critical to protect your pets from these pesky parasites and keep the creepy crawlies out of your home.

Fortunately, veterinarians recommend many effective flea and tick preventives on the market to help control the pests and prevent the spread of zoonotic diseases. Knowing what kind of product to use, and how to use it, is critical to the health and safety of your pet. Many are spot-on (topical) products that are applied directly to your pet’s skin, but there are some that are given orally (by mouth). Although medicines and pesticides must meet U.S. government-required safety standards before they can be sold, it is still critical that pet owners carefully consider their flea and tick preventive options (and closely read the label) before they treat their pets with one of these products.

To learn more, go to: https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Safe-use-of-flea-and-tick-preventive-products.aspx

Understanding Tickborne Diseases

Understanding Tickborne Diseases

Tickborne 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. Tickborne diseases can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites. Most people become infected through tick bites during the spring and summer months.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a bacterial disease transmitted by the dog tick, was first identified in 1896. It still exists, although now it can be easily treated. Since then, researchers have identified many new tickborne diseases.

Tickborne diseases can be found throughout the United States. For example, Lyme disease, first discovered in Connecticut in the early 1970s, has since spread to every state except Hawaii.

One of the newest tickborne diseases to be identified in the United States is called Southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI). This disease has a bull’s-eye rash similar to that found in Lyme disease, which is caused by bacteria transmitted by the deer tick. Although researchers know that the lone star tick transmits the infectious agent that causes STARI, they do not yet know what microbe (germ) causes it.

Ticks transmit ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis, both bacterial diseases. Babesiosis is caused by parasites carried by deer ticks. These diseases are found in several states.

Tularemia, a less common tickborne bacterial disease, can be transmitted by ticks as well as other vectors (carriers) such as the deerfly. Public health experts are concerned that the bacterium that causes tularemia (Francisella tularensis) could be used as a weapon of bioterrorism.

Tickborne disease can usually be prevented by avoiding places where ticks often live, such as dense woods and brushy areas. Using insect repellents containing DEET (for the skin) or permethrin (for clothes), wearing long pants and socks, performing tick checks, and promptly removing ticks also will help prevent infection from tickborne microbes.

Scientists are searching for better ways to diagnose, treat, and prevent tickborne diseases. They are also looking for ways to control the tick populations that transmit microbes.

To learn more, go to: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/tickborne/Pages/Default.aspx

Fleas and Ticks

Individualized Flea & Tick Control Programs: We develop control programs for the specific needs of your pet and your own particular environmental situation. Norristown has some unique flea and tick issues that require special attention. The staff of Trooper Vet will review with you the best ways to control fleas and ticks in your house, in your yard and on your pets. Please feel free to call or stop in if you have any questions