Streptococcus pyogenes Infection in a Free-Living European Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus)

Ecohealth. 2015 Dec;12(4):689-92. doi: 10.1007/s10393-015-1051-2. Epub 2015 Aug 5.


Streptococcus pyogenes, a common pathogen of humans, was isolated from the carcass of a free-living European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) found in northern England in June 2014. The animal had abscessation of the deep right cervical lymph node, mesenteric lymph nodes and liver. The S. pyogenes strain isolated from the lesions, peritoneal and pleural cavities was characterised as emm 28, which can be associated with invasive disease in humans. This is the first known report of S. pyogenes in a hedgehog and in any free-living wild animal that has been confirmed by gene sequencing. As close associations between wild hedgehogs and people in England are common, we hypothesise that this case might have resulted from anthroponotic infection.

Keywords: European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus); Streptococcus pyogenes; anthroponosis; anthroponotic; reverse zoonosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild / microbiology*
  • Disease Transmission, Infectious
  • England / epidemiology
  • Hedgehogs / microbiology*
  • Streptococcal Infections / epidemiology*
  • Streptococcal Infections / transmission*
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / isolation & purification*
  • Zoonoses / epidemiology
  • Zoonoses / microbiology*
  • Zoonoses / transmission*