BMC Microbiol. 2021 Jul 15;21(1):212. doi: 10.1186/s12866-021-02260-9.
BACKGROUND: A high carriage rate of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus with the mecC gene (mecC-MRSA) has been described among Wild European hedgehogs (Europeaus erineaus). Due to this frequent occurrence, it has been suggested that hedgehogs could be a natural reservoir for mecC-MRSA. However, the reason why hedgehogs carry mecC-MRSA remains unknown, but it has been hypothesized that mecC-MRSA could have evolved on the skin of hedgehogs due to the co-occurrence with antibiotic producing dermatophytes. The aim of this pilot-study was therefore to investigate if hedgehogs in Sweden carry Trichophyton spp. and to provide evidence that these dermatophytes are able to produce penicillin or similar substances. In addition, the study aimed to identify if dermatophytes co-occurred with mecC-MRSA.
METHODS: Samples were collected from hedgehogs (Europeaus erineaus) that were euthanized or died of natural causes. All samples were screened for dermatophytes and mecC-MRSA using selective cultivation methods. Suspected isolates were characterized using PCR-based methods, genome sequencing and bioinformatic analyses. Identification of penicillin was performed by ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry.
RESULTS: In total 23 hedgehogs were investigated, and it was shown that two carried Trichophyton erinacei producing benzyl-penicillin, and that these hedgehogs also carried mecC-MRSA. The study also showed that 60% of the hedgehogs carried mecC-MRSA.
CONCLUSION: The pilot-study demonstrated that Trichophyton erinacei, isolated from Swedish hedgehogs, can produce benzylpenicillin and that these benzylpenicillin-producing T. erinacei co-occurred with mecC-MRSA. The study also reconfirmed the high occurrence of mecC-MRSA among hedgehogs.