Scientists: people could adopt antibiotic resistance from hedgehogs
Some resistant bacteria could have appeared 130-200 years ago, that is, long before the mass use of antibiotics.
Resistance of human pathogens to antibiotics
It is believed that the resistance of human pathogens to antibiotics is a modern phenomenon caused by the direct use of antibiotics. However, scientists have recently concluded that some resistant bacteria could have appeared long before the mass use of antibiotics. They appeared on the skin of hedgehogs hundreds of years ago, a group of scientists claims in a new study published in the scientific journal Nature on January 5, 2022.
At the same time, scientists have no doubt that the use of antibiotics increases the resistance of bacteria that live in humans, one of the researchers Jesper Larsen, a veterinarian from the Danish State Institute of Serums, noted in a conversation with Science News. The point is that antibiotic-resistant genes in these bacteria had to appear somehow, and scientists don’t know where most of them came from, he said.
The researchers focused on the study of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). It is one of the most common pathogens that is resistant to many antibiotics. Hundreds of thousands of people are infected with them every year.
During the study, scientists studied smears from the noses, skin and paws of 276 hedgehogs from 10 European countries and New Zealand, Staphylococcus aureus was common in the UK, the Czech Republic and Scandinavia. The researchers found 16 resistant strains of MRSA, 3 of which appeared in the hedgehog population from 130 to 200 years ago (that is, long before the invention of antibiotics). In total, hedgehogs could transmit about 9 out of 16 strains to humans.
Antibiotic resistance: Results
Scientists also found a fungus in the hedgehogs’ habitat, from which several types of antibiotics were extracted in the laboratory. From this it can be concluded that MRSA’s resistance to antibiotics could be a consequence of living “side by side” with these penicillin-producing organisms, Gerry Wright, a biochemist from Canadian McMaster University, who was not involved in the work, believes.
The World Health Organization considers antibiotic resistance “one of the most serious threats to human health, food security and development.” In 2016, the “Expert” wrote that the World Bank predicted an economic crisis comparable to 2008, which would be triggered by a decrease in the effectiveness of antibiotics and a subsequent reduction in global GDP.