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Netherlands - Mysterious disease torments hedgehogs

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  • Netherlands - Mysterious disease torments hedgehogs

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    Mysterious disease torments hedgehogs: 'Bacteria eats the hedgehogs completely'

    Today at 10:35 • Updated today at 12:56

    These are tough times for the hedgehog. Not only because of the drought and heat, but also because of a dangerous and as yet unknown bacterium. More and more hedgehogs arrive badly mutilated at the Roosendaal Hedgehog Care Foundation. “They come in all the way under the wounds and abscesses.”

    Written by
    Anne of Egeraat

    The DierenLot Foundation announced that there is a large influx of dehydrated hedgehogs at hedgehog shelters. However, this is not the case at the hedgehog shelter in Roosendaal. “It's quieter here than usual,” says owner Dré Scheeres. “But hedgehogs, like many other animals, retreat when they are weak or dying. So it may well be that a lot of hedgehogs dry out, but they are simply not found.”

    The bacteria completely eat the hedgehogs.

    What the shelter does receive a lot of are sick hedgehogs with an unknown bacterial disease. "There has been an unknown infectious disease among the hedgehogs for two years," Dré explains. It is a bacterium that first appeared in Belgium. It has reached Brabant for a year or two. “The bacteria completely eat the hedgehogs. They get in all the way under the wounds and abscesses.” The hedgehogs have abscesses and wounds on the head and legs.

    The Utrecht University DWHC is conducting research into the mysterious disease. "In Belgium they think they already know the cause, but that is still doubted here." Belgian researchers have found Corynebacterium ulcerans (a bacterium) in the infected hedgehogs. Because this bacteria produces toxin, abscesses and wounds can develop. But in 25 of the hedgehogs that were examined in the Netherlands, this bacterium was found in only one hedgehog. Which, by the way, did not produce any toxin. "Nothing is certain yet."

    The duration of the illness is very long.

    Fortunately, the animals can be treated, so there is a chance of survival. But that doesn't always go well. The survival rate with treatment is between forty and seventy percent. “In addition, the duration of illness is extremely long. It can easily take two months for the animals to recover.” The cost of these hedgehogs is high.

    Of the thirty hedgehogs currently in the shelter, twelve suffer from the unknown disease. The first sick hedgehog was found in a neighborhood in Roosendaal. “At first we thought there was something wrong with the ground there.” But that was soon disproved, because within a short time hedgehogs from Breda, Tilburg and Zeeland followed.

    When you see a hedgehog during the day, it is almost always wrong.

    If you find a sick hedgehog, you can take the hedgehog to the shelter. "When you see a hedgehog during the day, it's almost always wrong." The disease is not known to be dangerous for humans, but always be careful. “Always wash your hands well after holding a hedgehog.”

    And those who would like to help the critters get through these tropical days: “Put some bowls of water in your garden and put some hedgehog or cat food in a sheltered place. And the best thing is to place a hedgehog house in your garden, so that they always have a safe place.” The hedgehogs will thank you!
    "Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."
    -Nelson Mandela