Hedgehogs have been named the culprit for the appearance of Staphylococcus aureus

(ORDO NEWS) — An international group of scientists came to the conclusion that it was on the skin of these cute creatures that Staphylococcus aureus appeared, against which, as you know, many antibiotics are powerless.

It turns out that dangerous strains of this bacterium probably did not arise as a result of the massive use of penicillin, but appeared during a long evolutionary struggle between microbes and fungi that live on the skin of European hedgehogs. This happened long before the discovery of penicillin.

Several years ago, the World Health Organization announced the alarm over the increasing resistance of bacterial infections to antibiotics. In this situation, the WHO blamed the massive use of antibiotics, because of which the bacteria developed immunity to them.

However, scientists from Staten’s Serum Institute (Denmark), University of Cambridge, Royal Botanic Gardens (UK), University of Veterinary Medicine, Institute of Hygiene, Microbiology and Tropical Medicine (Austria), Free University of Brussels (Belgium), Czech University of Life Sciences (Czech Republic) and other scientific organizations conducted their own research and came to the conclusion that resistance of some bacteria to antibiotics could not have appeared as a result of the massive use of penicillin, methicillin and other antibiotics, but arose much earlier than mankind knew about these drugs. Experts presented their findings in the journal Nature.

Biologists decided to find out how bacteria got the so-called mecC gene set – the one that protects them from the action of popular antibiotics. Therefore, they studied small differences in the structure of this DNA region and found out which ones are characteristic for different strains of staphylococcus.

The authors of the work also made an attempt to find this region in the genomes of other microorganisms . The result was more than surprising: it turned out that the desired set of genes appeared not in the second half of the last century, but about 200 years ago.

And for the first time it arose not at all in people and livestock, but in wild animals, namely, hedgehogs that live in Europe. On the skin, about 60 percent of them lived bacteria that have an “antibiotic-resistant” set of genes, and strains of staphylococcus, which strongly resemble the modern culprits of hospital infections.

The researchers hypothesized that mecC arose from a battle between skin fungi (trying to get rid of bacteria by secreting antibiotics) from hedgehogs and staphylococcus aureus. From European hedgehogs, bacteria began to spread among livestock, and then spread to humans . According to scientists, this once again emphasizes that wild animals serve as reservoirs of many potentially dangerous infections, so further study of their pathogens is necessary.

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