Addressing Challenges in Wildlife Rehabilitation: Antimicrobial-Resistant Bacteria from Wounds and Fractures in Wild Birds

Esther Sánchez-Ortiz, María del Mar Blanco Gutiérrez, Cristina Calvo-Fernández, Aida Mencía-Gutiérrez, Natalia Pastor Tiburón, Alberto Alvarado Piqueras, Alba Pablos-Tanarro, Bárbara Martín-Maldonado*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Simple Summary
Wildlife rescue centers frequently admit animals with injuries and bone fractures. Open fractures are common in birds due to their anatomy, and this can lead to complications like osteomyelitis, which implies a serious bone infection and often necrosis, or death of the affected bone tissue. Antibiotic therapy is crucial, but the rise in antimicrobial-resistant isolates in wildlife raises concerns about treatment efficacy. A study focused on isolating, identifying, and assessing antimicrobial resistance in bacteria from wounds and fractures in wild birds. Among 36 isolates, Staphylococcus spp. dominated (63.8%), with 82.6% exhibiting antimicrobial resistance, particularly to clindamycin, an antimicrobial key in the treatment of infected bone fractures. This escalating resistance poses a dual threat to wildlife—therapeutic failure and the spread of resistant bacteria in ecosystems.


Injuries and bone fractures are the most frequent causes of admission at wildlife rescue centers. Wild birds are more susceptible to open fractures due to their anatomical structure, which can lead to osteomyelitis and necrosis. Antibiotic therapy in these cases is indispensable, but the increase of antimicrobial-resistant isolates in wildlife has become a significant concern in recent years. In this context, the likelihood of antibiotic failure and death of animals with infectious issues is high. This study aimed to isolate, identify, and assess the antimicrobial resistance pattern of bacteria in wounds and open fractures in wild birds. To this end, injured birds admitted to a wildlife rescue center were sampled, and bacterial isolation and identification were performed. Then, antimicrobial susceptibility testing was assessed according to the disk diffusion method. In total, 36 isolates were obtained from 26 different birds. The genera detected were Staphylococcus spp. (63.8%), Escherichia (13.9%), Bacillus (11.1%), Streptococcus (8.3%), and Micrococcus (2.8%). Among Staphylococcus isolates, S. lentus and S. aureus were the most frequent species. Antimicrobial resistance was detected in 82.6% of the isolates, among which clindamycin resistance stood out, and 31.6% of resistant isolates were considered multidrug-resistant. Results from this study highlight the escalating scope of antimicrobial resistance in wildlife. This level of resistance poses a dual concern for wildlife: firstly, the risk of therapeutic failure in species of significant environmental value, and, secondly, the circulation of resistant bacteria in ecosystems.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1151
Issue number8
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Staphylococcus
  • S. aureus
  • S. lentus
  • AMR
  • Multidrug resistance
  • Clindamycin
  • Avian medicine


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