Do possums carry diseases fatal to horses?

  • When horses consume contaminated opossum feces, they are afflicted with EPM, which affects the nervous system.
  • There are several warning symptoms of sickness, such as a lack of coordination or muscular atrophy.
  • Grain should be stored in sealed bins to prevent contamination, and opossums should be kept under control in and around your barn.


What is EPM?

An EPM patient’s brain and spinal cord are both affected by the condition. Sarcocystis neurona, a common opossum bacterium, is to blame. Infected opossum feces may cause neurological illness in horses.

The microorganism may also infect other organisms.

  • Armadillos
  • Skunks
  • Domestic cats

These hosts, unlike the opossum, are unable to transmit the illness to horses directly.

Symptoms of a medical condition

Symptoms of EPM might resemble other neurological disorders or be intermittent.

  • Stiff, jerky motions; a lack of coordination. unexplained walking abnormalities
  • Weakness and lack of coordination
  • When moving up or down hills, or when the head is up, this becomes worse.
  • Atrophy of muscle
  • Topline or hindquarter abnormalities are more pronounced.
  • Involves the muscles of the face or forearms at times
  • Drooping eyes, ears, or lips
  • Having a hard time swallowing
  • Shocks or collapses are examples of seizures.
  • Sweating without cause
  • Face, neck, or body loss of sensation
  • a shaky head position
  • For stability, you may splay your feet or rest on the stall walls.


EPM may be treated in one of two ways.

  • antibiotics and antiprotozoal agents (trimethoprim-sulfonamide) for six months (pyrimethamine).
  • Course of antiprotozoal medication for 28 days (ponazuril). Ponazuril may need to be reapplied in certain circumstances. For EPM, this is the sole therapy authorized by the FDA.

Depending on the health of your horse, he or she may need general assistance.


60 to 70% of horses treated for EPM will improve, and 15 to 25% of them will be able to totally recover. The greatest outcomes may be achieved by beginning therapy as soon as possible. During the first four weeks, the most significant progress is made.

Despite therapy, over 80% of horses will show up positive on the spinal tap. They may not even be displaying any symptoms of a medical condition. About 10 to 20 percent of these horses relapse during the first two years.

People also ask

Does opossum poop kill horses?

Recent investigation indicates that opossum feces (definitive host) are the source of the infection for horses. Opossums acquire the infection by eating infected birds (intermediate host). Most infections would come from contaminated pasture, hay, grain, and water with opossum feces.

What are the symptoms of EPM in horses?

If left undiagnosed and untreated, EPM can cause devastating and lasting neurological damage. … Learn to Recognize the Symptoms of EPM

  1. Ataxia (incoordination), spasticity (stiff, stilted movements), abnormal gait or lameness.
  2. Incoordination and weakness which worsens when going up or down slopes or when head is elevated.

Does every opossum carry EPM?

Causes of EPM A few types of wild animals and all opossums can be the carrier of the protozoa for EPM. While other animals may carry the protozoa in their body, only opossums can transmit EPM.

What do possums do to horses?

Answer: The disease is equine protozoal myeloencephalitis, or EPM, and is transmitted from opossums to horses when they eat or drink where infected opossums have defecated. The organism responsible for EPM is a parasite, Sarcocystis neurona, a protozoan or microscopic single-cell organism.

Can a horse fully recover from EPM?

If left undiagnosed and untreated, EPM can cause devastating and lasting neurological deficits. The success rate for treated horses is high. Many will improve and a smaller percentage will recover completely, but 10-20% of cases may relapse within two years.

How do you prevent equine protozoal myeloencephalitis?

Prevention. As horses most commonly come into contact with SN by ingesting feed or water containing opossum feces, prevention relies on reducing the chances of opossum feces being present. Focus on avoiding attracting opossums to horse feeding areas, and preventing them from accessing those areas if they do arrive.

Are horses in pain with EPM?


EPM can impact both the brain and spinal cord, so symptoms can vary from case to case. Pain caused by EPM lesions may also cause a horse to become grouchy.

Do horses with EPM lay down?

Loss of sensation along the face, neck or body. Head tilt with poor balance; horse may assume a splay-footed stance or lean against stall walls for support. Fatigue or narcolepsy – horse may seem to suddenly fall asleep, or lie down for extended periods.

Is EPM fatal in horses?

EPM is defined as a progressive, degenerative disease, which means as time passes, the inflammation can become widespread and the damage can increase in severity. Once affected, the function of the tissues in the central nervous system may continue to deteriorate. EPM in horses can be a fatal disease.

What kind of parasites do possums carry?

Opossums carry diseases such as leptospirosis, tuberculosis, relapsing fever, tularemia, spotted fever, toxoplasmosis, coccidiosis, trichomoniasis, and Chagas disease. They may also be infested with fleas, ticks, mites, and lice.

How are horses infected with equine protozoal myeloencephalitis?

Most cases of equine protozoal myeloencephalitis are caused by an apicomplexan protozoan, Sarcocystis neurona. Horses are infected by ingestion of S neurona sporocysts in contaminated feed or water. The organism undergoes early asexual multiplication (schizogony) in extraneural tissues before parasitizing the CNS.

Do possums carry diseases fatal to dogs?

Dogs can contract bacterial and protozoal diseases from opossums, although they do not typically carry the deadly rabies virus. Your dog can still be infected with diseases transmitted through possum droppings and urine even if it does not directly come into contact with the possum.

Can you eat possum?


Possums are also popular in places such as New Zealand, Indonesia, Sulawesi, and New Guinea. This wild animal is a treat for the people living in these countries. Possums are incredibly rich in meat and carry an impressive amount of fats.

Can possums make you sick?

Opossums become dangerous with their ability to transmit diseases to pets and people. Known to carry leptospirosis, tuberculosis, coccidiosis, spotted fever, tularemia, and other diseases, the pesky creatures pose serious health threats when they invade urban environments.

Do possums bite?


Do Opossums Bite? Just like any scared animal, it’s possible for opossums to bite in defense. If they feel cornered or threatened, opossums will use several escape strategies ranging from playing dead to hissing. Biting is rare, but people should avoid contact with all wild animals to eliminate the risk.

Can EPM cause ulcers?

One of the first signs of EPM is gastric ulcers, and many patients that we see with EPM present with recurrent gastric ulceration or gastric ulcers that will not heal despite several rounds of treatment.

Does EPM cause back pain in horses?

Here is a discussion of a complete neurological exam and the symptoms of EPM. The most common symptoms are some degree of lack of coordination: perhaps stumbling more than before, slipping easily, bumping into trees on the trail, dragging toes like your horse is, and back or muscle soreness for no apparent reason.

Where do possums sleep?



Possums sleep in nests in hollow trees or dens inside caves, attics, and abandoned buildings on the ground. They don’t like the light, so they usually find places that are well covered during the day to sleep. Typically, any place well-covered, safe from predators, and free will be perfect for a possum to sleep in.

What is the best possum repellent?

Best Possum Deterrents

  1. Bonide Repels-All Animal Repellent. PREDATORGUARD Solar Powered Predator Deterrent.
  2. Best Granule Option. Best Nocturnal Option.
  3. $22.25.
  4. Biodegradable repellent for more than just possums in a three pound bag. It is weather-resistant and well-designed.

What animal poops out of mouth?


In 1880, the German zoologist Carl Chun suggested a pair of tiny pores opposite the comb jelly mouth might secrete some substance, but he also confirmed that the animals defecate through their mouths. In 1997, biologists again observed indigestible matter exiting the comb jelly mouth—not the mysterious pores.

Do possums carry leptospirosis?

Opossums can carry a number of infectious diseases including, leptospirosis, tuberculosis, relapsing fever, tularemia, spotted fever, toxoplasmosis, coccidiosis, and Chagas disease.

What’s the difference between a possum and an opossum?


Both possum and opossum correctly refer to the Virginia opossum frequently seen in North America. In common use, possum is the usual term; in technical or scientific contexts opossum is preferred. Opossum can be pronounced with its first syllable either voiced or silent . So cute.

How do I get rid of possums?

  1. STEP 1: Remove possum attractants such as food and water and potential homes. …
  2. STEP 2: Secure outside entry points to your home; block access to chimneys, vents, or any other holes or gaps. …
  3. STEP 3: Apply a chemical repellent to your garden. …
  4. STEP 3: Use electronic repellents to scare possums away.

Why do horses cross their back legs?

This observation is commonly associated with a neurlogic deficit or spinal cord injury. It is also an uncommon stereotypical behavior. I have seen horses that crossed the hind limbs and a few that crossed the forelimbs. As with many stereotypical behaviors, it seems to intensify when the horse is anxious or distressed.

Is wobbler syndrome in horses painful?

A normal horse will not react but a “Wobbler” will withdraw by depressing the spine in a squatting position. This is not a sign of pain but a sign of weakness as a result of nerve damage.

What is the best treatment for EPM?

There is no vaccine for EPM. The veterinary community has gone back to treating EPM with Diclazuril, which is a product used to prevent coccidiosis in chickens. I used this product over 20 years ago to treat EPM when I was in Arizona.

Can EPM blindness?

Early signs of EPM are frequent stumbling and inexplicable lameness. If the brain is infected, clinical signs may include behavioral changes, blindness, seizures, drooping lip or ear, head tilt, and atrophy of the tongue and chewing muscles.

What is Toltrazuril used for in horses?

Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM) is a serious disorder of the nervous system of horses caused by Sarcocystis neurona. Recently, toltrazuril has begun to be used for treatment of EPM.

Where do possums live during the day?


hollow tree trunks

They are generally nocturnal and they spend the day in hollow tree trunks, rock crevices, under brush piles, or in burrows. They are excellent climbers and good swimmers. Opossums also spend a lot of time slowly ambling about on the ground, and as a result they are frequently struck by cars.

What happens if a dog kills a possum?

However, you can take some comfort in the knowledge that rabid possums are rare. In any event, if your dog kills a possum – or any wild animal – and eats it, you should check him for injuries and take him to the vet for booster shots. This is the safest route to take.

What brings possums to your yard?


They are attracted to your yard whenever food is plentiful, so leaving food scraps in your garbage will definitely keep them around. In most cases, these animals get attracted by odorous and overflowing garbage cans, any containers left outdoors, or uncovered compost heaps.

Do dogs eat possums?


No, dogs should not eat possums. Yes, there’s always a risk when your four-legged friends eat these small marsupials. If the possum carries illnesses and diseases or had been poisoned prior to your dog attacking it and eating it, then you’ll want to contact the vet as soon as you can.

Do Southerners eat possum?

In the case of Southern food, a lot of history goes into a dish, too. This isn’t as evident with squirrel as it is with another small game that was once just as common on Southern tables: the possum. Possum is far more Southern than squirrel — in habitat, in preparation, and in re-evaluation.

What animals Can you not eat?

  1. Animal lungs (as found in haggis) Animal lungs are a primary ingredient in haggis and the reason why we can’t have this Scottish delicacy in America. …
  2. Casu Marzu: a Sardinian cheese filled with live maggots. …
  3. Shark fins. …
  4. Bushmeat: meat from African game animals. …
  5. Pufferfish. …
  6. Horse meat. …
  7. Hallucinogenic absinthe. …
  8. Sea turtle meat.

Do possums carry diseases fatal to horses?

EPM is a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. It’s caused by the microbe, Sarcocystis neurona, commonly found in the opossum. Horses that come in contact with infected opossum feces can develop neurologic disease. Unlike the opossum, these hosts can’t directly pass the disease to horses.

Are opossums dirty?

Opossums Help Keep Our Backyards and Homes Clean and Free of Pests. People tend to think Opossums are unclean and disease ridden but it is actually just the opposite. Opossums are extremely clean. They are opportunistic scavengers who happily clean up after themselves and everyone else.

Are possums aggressive?

Opossum are not aggressive: their open-mouth, defensive hissing is merely a bluff to look vicious. And if that doesn’t work they play dead when really scared! If there is an opossum in the backyard, don’t worry. They aren’t a threat, and more than likely they will be moving on in a short while.

How long do possums stay in one area?

2-3 days

Opossums are transient animals, staying only 2-3 days in an area before moving on. Removal is neither necessary nor desirable. Wildlife experts agree that if opossums were eliminated from an area, the population of roof rats and other pests would proliferate.

Do possums chase humans?


Not really. Possums don’t deliberately attack. They are very docile. They usually only attack as a last resort, if they are being attacked themselves.

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