Faecal carriage of salmonella was investigated in 320 hedgehogs from Moss municipality in south-eastern Norway, Askøy, Bergen and Os municipalities in central-western Norway, and five municipalities in south-western and central Norway. The sampling in Moss was carried out 1 year after a human outbreak of salmonellosis, whereas the sampling in Askøy, Bergen and Os was carried out during a human outbreak. Both outbreaks were caused by Salmonella Typhimurium 4,5,12[ratio ]i[ratio ]1,2. No salmonella were detected in the hedgehogs from south-western (0/115) and central (0/24) Norway. Thirty-nine percent (39/99) of the animals sampled on Jeløy, and 41% (34/82) of those from Askøy, Bergen and Os, carried S. Typhimurium 4,5,12[ratio ]i[ratio ]1,2. The PFGE profile of isolates from hedgehogs and human beings were identical within each of the two outbreak areas. A significantly higher carrier rate of S. Typhimurium occurred among hedgehogs sampled at feeding places, compared to those caught elsewhere. The salmonella-infected hedgehog populations most likely constituted the primary source of infection during both of the human disease outbreaks, and the Norwegian hedgehog is suggested as a reservoir host of S. Typhimurium 4,5,12[ratio ]i[ratio ]1,2.
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