Sunday, 16 August 2015

Human sore throat bacteria found to have led to the death of a hedgehog

A post mortem carried out by the Zoological Society of London’s (ZSL) Institute of Zoology has, for the first time, identified that a human sore throat pathogen was responsible for the death of a wild hedgehog.

The free-living European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) was found dead in northern England and a post-mortem examination and detailed laboratory testing confirmed the presence of the pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes, typically found in humans with sore throat or rash-like symptoms.

The pathogen was characterised as emm 28, a strain associated with invasive disease in humans. The discovery is the first known report of this human pathogen in a hedgehog, and in any free-living wild animal, as confirmed by gene sequencing.

The pathogen was determined to be the cause of death in the hedgehog, the bacteria having likely entered the body via a tooth root abscess, before spreading to other tissues.

A paper, written by Lydia Franklinos, a wildlife veterinarian within ZSL’s Institute of Zoology, and published in EcoHealth, hypothesises that the case may have resulted from the transfer of infection from human to hedgehog via anthroponotic infection, or reverse zoonosis.

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