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Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title

EFFECT OF HEAVY METAL CONCENTRATION ON DISEASE INCIDENCE IN VIRGINIA OPOSSUM**

Abstract

The Virginia Opossum, or (Didelphis virginiana), is the only extant marsupial in the United States. With a substantial range that encompasses much of the United States, the Virginia Opossum is heavily involved in native ecosystems. Due to their omnivorous diet, opossums come into contact with a plethora of bacterial and viral diseases that could link them to zoonotic disease cycles. There has been little in the way of surveillance for disease in this species, in particular the southeastern U.S. From 2003 to 2006 opossum specimens were collected at four sites in South Georgia and Northern Florida. In this study, blood serum was tested for antibodies specific to 11 diseases. This study works in collaboration with another paper that looks at heavy metal concentrations from the same opossum specimens. The goal of this study is to ascertain the disease incidence of that timeframe, and to see if heavy metal concentrations have any possible impact on number of infected individuals.

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