Handling any type of wild animal poses a risk, but opossums are generally considered harmless and rarely carry serious diseases such as rabies. Anyone handling an opossum should wear gloves, avoid the animal's teeth and nails and wash their hands after contact.
Before attempting a rescue, it must be determined that the animal is actually in trouble. Opossums are known to go into a state of shock, or "play dead," when confronted. Once the danger has passed, they will continue on their way. If an opossum is truly in trouble, basic first aid needs to be administered to them immediately after they're rescued. Once stabilized, the opossum must be turned over to a licensed wildlife rehabber for further treatment.