Wobbly Possum Disease (WPD) is a neurological disease affecting brushtail possums in Tasmania. It was first reported in New Zealand in 1995 and the first cases were confirmed in Tasmania in 2019. The disease is known to be caused by an RNA virus. Transmission between possums is likely to occur through close contact. Signs of this virus have only been reported in brushtail possums, although antibodies to the virus (indicating exposure to the virus) have been found in other species of possums including ringtail possums.
Signs and symptoms
Possums affected by WPD may present with the following neurological signs;
Being out in daylight hours (when they are usually out at night)
Being docile and not moving when approached
Have difficulty climbing or falling out of trees
Have abnormal posture or gait
Tremors, head tilt or circling
Signs of visual impairment or blindness
The following map shows the locations in Tasmania where brushtail possums have been confirmed with WPD. The Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania (NRE Tas) is interested in reports of possums with matching signs as listed above, especially in areas where the disease has not been previously confirmed.
Wobbly Possum Disease Map
There is a low level of concern at a national level for WPD. There is no evidence that it is transmissible to livestock or people, and it is a slow spreading disease among brushtail possums. Long-term monitoring of the species has not detected any decreases in population size that is likely to be associated with the virus.
Wildlife Rehabilitator Information
NRE Tas asks that all rehabilitators currently caring for brushtail possums observe the following points to reduce the risk of further spread of the disease:
If you have any concerns that animals in your care may be affected, please contact Wildlife Services.
Further information about WPD can be found in the Wildlife Health Australia fact sheet.