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Listeria Monocytogenes Infection of Free-living Western European Hedgehogs (Erinaceus Europaeus)

Hydeskov, H; Amar, C; Rodriguez-Ramos Fernandez, J; John, S; Macgregor, S; Cunningham, A; Lawson, B; (2019) Listeria Monocytogenes Infection of Free-living Western European Hedgehogs (Erinaceus Europaeus). Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine , 50 (1) pp. 183-189. 10.1638/2018-0093. Green open access

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Abstract

Listeria monocytogenes is a ubiquitous environmental bacterium that causes disease in a wide range of species. Infection with this pathogen is most frequently diagnosed in ruminant livestock, but is also known to infect people and occasionally wildlife. Postmortem examinations of Western European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) in Great Britain (2011–2017) identified five (5/266, 2%, 95% confidence interval: 0.8–4.3%) animals with L. monocytogenes infection. The L. monocytogenes isolates comprised three serogroup 1/2a and two serogroup 4 from three multilocus sequence types (2, 37, and 121), all of which were different by single-nucleotide polymorphism analysis, indicating they were distinct and epidemiologically unrelated. These findings are consistent with hedgehogs contracting sporadic infection from the environment, perhaps through eating soil-dwelling invertebrates. Examination of data from scanning surveillance programs focused on other British wildlife species indicates that the hedgehog is one of the wildlife species from which L. monocytogenes has been most frequently identified to date in Great Britain. However, further studies of multiple taxa with comparable sampling efforts are required to assess the relative frequency of L. monocytogenes infection in different wildlife species. The bacterium was isolated from extraintestinal sites in multiple hedgehogs, which may indicate septicemia. However, histological examination was limited and could not discriminate subclinical infection from disease (i.e., listeriosis). Although L. monocytogenes is a zoonotic pathogen, disease in people is typically contracted from the ingestion of contaminated foods. The risk to immunocompetent people of contracting listeriosis from hedgehogs is considered very low to negligible.

Type: Article
Title: Listeria Monocytogenes Infection of Free-living Western European Hedgehogs (Erinaceus Europaeus)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1638/2018-0093
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1638/2018-0093
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10060338
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