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Prevalence of Staphylococcus aureus in wild hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) and first report of mecC-MRSA in Hungary

Sahin-Tóth, Judit, Albert, Ervin, Juhász, Alexandra, Ghidán, Ágoston, Juhász, János, Horváth, Andrea, Steward, Martin C. and Dobay, Orsolya (2022) 'Prevalence of Staphylococcus aureus in wild hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) and first report of mecC-MRSA in Hungary'. Science of The Total Environment, Vol 815, p. 152858.

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In 2011 mecC, a new mecA gene homologue, was described in a bovine isolate in the UK. Since then, mecC-positive methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (mecC-MRSA) has also been found in wild animals. An especially high prevalence of mecC-MRSA has been reported among hedgehogs in Sweden (64%) and Denmark (61%). Based on these findings we aimed to survey the hedgehog population for mecC-MRSA in Hungary.

Altogether 200 hedgehogs were screened for Staphylococcus aureus using a culture-based method. The antibiotic susceptibility of the isolates to nine drugs was determined, their genetic relatedness was established by PFGE and spa-typing, and virulence genes were identified by PCR. Whole genome sequencing was performed for the single mecC-MRSA isolate found.

Of the 200 animals, 13 were carriers of S. aureus (6.5%). Among these, one isolate was mecA positive and one was mecC positive. The isolates were susceptible to non-beta-lactam antibiotics. Toxin genes were not found, but the majority carried genes responsible for adhesion and biofilm production. The mecC-MRSA isolate was a single-locus variant of ST130, had a new spa type (t19701) and belonged to SCCmec type XI. It carried a recently described, novel exfoliative toxin (etE).

This is the first report of mecC-MRSA in Hungary and the first survey of staphylococcus carriage among wild animals in the country. The mecC prevalence was much lower than in Northern European countries and rather similar to other countries in our region. MecC-MRSA could potentially emerge as a novel human pathogen, especially where close contact occurs between humans and animals.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: QU Biochemistry > Genetics > QU 475 Genetic processes
QU Biochemistry > Genetics > QU 550 Genetic techniques. PCR. Chromosome mapping
QZ Pathology > Pathogenesis. Etiology > QZ 40 Pathogenesis. Etiology
Faculty: Department: Biological Sciences > Department of Tropical Disease Biology
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
Depositing User: Marie Hatton
Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2022 13:32
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2022 09:50


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