Home Medizin Tollwut in städtischen Opossums signalisiert Gesundheitsalarm in São Paulo

Tollwut in städtischen Opossums signalisiert Gesundheitsalarm in São Paulo

von NFI Redaktion

The discovery of a female white-eared opossum (Didelphis albiventris) that was found dead in 2021 in Bosque dos Jequitibás Park, located in Campinas, one of the largest cities in the Brazilian state of São Paulo, led to concerns about the presence of the deadly virus in urban environments, as reported by a research group from the University of São Paulo (USP) and the Lutz Institute for Adolfo Lutz, the regional reference laboratory, which collaborated with health professionals affiliated with public facilities in the cities of São Paulo and Campinas.

„Thanks to successful vaccination campaigns for pets, there is no rabies in dogs in the state of São Paulo. Therefore, it is important to monitor other mammals that can act as transmitters of the virus, particularly animals that are neglected in this type of monitoring, such as opossums,“ explained Eduardo Ferreira Machado, the lead author of the article.

Eduardo Ferreira Machado, Erstautor des Artikels

These findings were published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. Machado conducted the study as part of his doctoral thesis at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science (FMVZ-USP), with a scholarship from the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP).

Neurological signs of the disease observed in the animal indicated a form of rabies that leads to paralysis and is transmitted by bats. Virus particles were also identified in other organs, indicating that the infection was at an advanced stage.

The opossum was one of 22 opossums tested for rabies and other diseases in 2021 as part of an epidemiological surveillance project conducted in collaboration with the Health Ministry of the city of São Paulo and the Campinas Center for Zoonosis Control.

Implications for Humans

The team also highlighted the importance of monitoring wild animals, such as opossums, which live in urban environments and can potentially transmit diseases to humans. This is especially important in regions where wildlife interacts with domestic animals such as dogs and cats, which can act as intermediaries for the spread of diseases.

The authors emphasized that opossums are a key species for surveillance, as they adapt well to urban environments and can interact with wooded areas without necessarily ceasing to interact with them.

The study’s findings underscore the need for continued monitoring and research to better understand and prevent the transmission of diseases from wildlife to humans. The researchers are collaborating with institutions in other countries, such as Australia, to further establish monitoring protocols for opossums and other marsupials.


São Paulo Forschungsstiftung (FAPESP)

Journal reference:

Ferreira-Machado, E., et al. (2023). Naturally Acquired Rabies in White-Eared Opossum, Brazil. Emerging Infectious Diseases. doi.org/10.3201/eid2912.230373.

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