Extended-spectrum β-lactam resistant klebsiella pneumoniae and escherichia coli in wild European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europeus) living in populated areas

Biel Garcias, Laia Aguirre, Chiara Seminati, Nerea Reyes, Alberto Allepuz, Elena Obón, Rafael A. Molina-lopez, Laila Darwich*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Wildlife has been suggested to be a good sentinel of environmental health because of its close interaction with human populations, domestic animals, and natural ecosystems. The alarming emergence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in human and veterinary medicine has activated/trig-gered the awareness of monitoring the levels of AMR pollution in wildlife. European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) are common wild species habiting urban areas in Europe. However, there are few studies conducted in hedgehogs as reservoirs of AMR bacteria or genes. The aim of this study was to assess the occurrence and distribution of ESBL, AmpC, and carbapenem-resistant enterobac-teria and AMR genes in wild European hedgehogs in Catalonia, a densely populated region of NE Spain. A total of 115 hedgehogs admitted at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Torreferrussa were studied. To our knowledge, this is the first description of β-lactam resistant enterobacteria in wild hedgehogs. Interestingly, 36.8% (42/114) of the animals were detected as carriers of β-lactamase/car-bapenemase resistance genes. Klebsiella spp. (59.6%), and specifically K. pneumoniae (84.6%), were the bacteria with the highest proportion of resistance genes, followed by E. coli (34.6%) and C. freun-dii (5.8 %). The most frequently detected genetic variants were blaCTX-M-15 (19.3%), blaSHV-28 (10.5%), blaCMY-1 (9.7%), blaCMY-2 (8.8%), and blaOXA-48 (1.7%). In addition, 52% (27/52) of the isolates presented a multidrug resistance (MDR) phenotype and 31% had an extended drug resistance (XDR) profile. No clustering of animals with AMR genes within the study region was shown in the spatial analysis, nor differences in the proportion of positive animals among regions, were detected. The results of this study suggest that wild European hedgehogs could be good sen-tinels of AMR environmental pollution, especially in areas with a high human population density, because they either inhabit and/or feed in an anthropogenic environment. In conclusion, it is crucial to raise awareness of the strong interconnection between habitats and compartments, and therefore this implies that AMR issues must be tackled under the One Health approach.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2837
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • E. coli
  • ESBL
  • K. pneumoniae
  • Wild European hedgehogs


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