** Note: This is a press release issued by the European Conference on Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID 2022, Lisbon, April 23-26).). Please approve the conference if you use this story**
For the first time, a highly contagious strain of the antibiotic-resistant MRSA bacteria that has plagued hospitals in northern Europe has been isolated from hedgehogs in Helsinki. The study, led by Venla Johansson and colleagues from the University of Helsinki, Finland, will be presented at this year’s European Conference on Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) in Lisbon, Portugal (April 23-26).
The researchers say the findings indicate the spread of bacteria and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) genes to urban wildlife, and should be closely monitored to limit the global emergence of new antimicrobial resistance traits in the future.
Superbugs such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is an antibiotic-resistant bacterium for which there are no or limited treatments. European hedgehogs (Irinasus europaeus) is a common wild species that lives in urban areas, and was recently discovered as a natural reservoir for MRSA. . Surveys in Denmark and Sweden also indicate that up to 60% of hedgehogs carry a type of MRSA called MRSA. MKMRSA, which causes 1 in 200 of all MRSA infections in humans .
Escherichia coli (coli bacteria) And Klebsiella pneumoniae The bacteria are common in the intestines of healthy people and animals. Highly resistant, extended-spectrum strains of ESBL-E bacteria usually cause urinary tract infections in people. Previous studies have found ESBL-E to be common in European wild hedgehog populations. But little is known about Finnish hedgehogs as reservoirs of bacteria or antibiotic resistance genes.
To find out the occurrence of this resistant bacteria in European hedgehogs in Finland, the researchers tested samples of 115 dead hedgehogs from the Korkiasari Wild Animal Hospital in Helsinki between 2020 and 2021.
To test for the presence of MRSA, swabs from the nose, mouth, and perineum were obtained from each hedgehog, and stool samples were also collected for ESBL-E testing. Then whole genome sequencing was performed to study the genomic features of the bacteria including virulence and resistance genes.
The research team found that about 1 in 10 (10%; 11/115) hedgehogs colonized with at least one MRSA-producing bacterial strain and at least one ESBL-producing strain (9%; 10/115).
Interestingly, four hedgehogs carrying mecA-MRSA and belonging to a successful clone (t304/ST6), have been shown in human patients in Northern Europe over the past few years. In Finland, most clinical MRSA infections are caused by mecA-MRSA.
However, only three hedgehogs carried the type of MRSA named MK-MRSA, which was previously reported to be commonly found in European hedgehogs in Sweden and Denmark. This indicates that there appears to be genetic diversity between and variation in MRSA strains across hedgehog groups and countries, the researchers say.
The study also found that the most common ESBL resistance genes are blaCTX-M-1 and blaCTX-M-15, which are frequently found in human and animal isolates. The global spread of blaNDM-1 and other antibiotic resistance genes is of increasing concern because they often target ‘last resort’ classes of antibiotics, including Carbapenem.
Moreover, two coli bacteria The strains identified in hedgehogs were of species related to humans (ST68 and ST69—a frequent cause of serious infections of the bladder and bloodstream in humans), suggesting that they can be transmitted from humans to hedgehogs.
“This is the first report of successful t304/ST6 cloning (with potential for global spread) in urban hedgehogs and underscores the need for additional monitoring of potential t304/ST6 sources and spread in urban environments,” says Johansson. , or whether mecA-MRSA in hedgehogs is of clinical importance to the animals themselves, is unknown.”
She continues, “Surprisingly, we also found that about 10% of hedgehogs tested positive for ESBL-E-producing bacteria – twice the prevalence in humans and companion animals in Finland (5%). Our findings could indicate the prevalence of antimicrobial resistance.” microbes from human sources to urban wildlife, potentially creating secondary reservoirs in the environment where clinically significant resistance may spread elsewhere.”
However, Johansson points out that not only are hedgehogs harboring antibiotic-resistant bacteria, “All wild animals and livestock carry different types of bacteria, so there are many candidates for their spread in urban environments including humans themselves. Furthermore, it has been linked to Human sources, such as waste, agricultural runoff and domestic wastewater transfer antimicrobial resistance to wild animals.”
This observational study cannot prove that human sources cause colonization with antimicrobial resistant bacteria in Finnish hedgehogs, but only indicates the possibility of such an effect. The authors point out several limitations, including that they only sampled hedgehogs from one city in Finland and the results may not represent the entire country.
“In the future, the transmission of MRSA from hedgehogs in different environments and in a broader geographic context should be monitored to determine if hedgehogs can act as an AMR sentinel that detects levels of antimicrobial resistance in the environment,” Johansson adds.
For interviews with the report’s authors from the University of Helsinki, FinlandPlease contact: Vinla Johansson in email@example.com or Annamari Heikinheimo E) annamari.heikinheimo@helsinki Tel) +358 29415 7106
Alternate contact in the ECCMID Press Room: Tony Kirby T) + 44 (0) 7834 385827 E) firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors:
 The emergence of methicillin resistance precedes the clinical use of antibiotics temper nature
 European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) as a natural reservoir of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus carrying mecC in Denmark (nih.gov)
High incidence of MecC-MRSA in wild hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) in Sweden – ScienceDirect
This press release is based on the abstract of the poster L0124 that was recently broken at the European Conference on Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID). All widely accepted abstracts were reviewed by the conference selection committee. There is no complete research paper at this point, but the authors are happy to answer your questions. The research has not yet been submitted to a medical journal for publication.
The authors declare no conflict of interest
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