Wobbly Possum Disease

​​​​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 betwe​en 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

  • Uncoordinated movement

  • Signs of visual impairment or blindness​

​​Locations

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.

WPD Map

Wobbly Possum Disease Map

​​​Impact

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:

  • ​isolate any known or suspected cases of WPD from other possum species

  • maintain handwashing procedures between animals as well as at the beginning and end of feeding and handling sessions

​If you have any concerns that animals in your care may be affected, please contact Wildlife Services.

Resources

Further information about WPD can be fou​​​nd in the Wildlife Health Australia fact sheet​.​

Contact

Wildlife Services

GPO Box 44,
Hobart, TAS, 7001.