A low dose of bacteriophage can reduce the Salmonella count in broilers to below detection limits, according to research presented at the Poultry Science Association Annual Meeting.
“Harnessing natural bacteriophages is a 100-year old technology, used routinely in certain parts of the world to treat bacterial disease in humans in a similar way to antibiotics,” said AB Agri’s Director of Innovation, Nell Masey O’Neill.
“This program of work is designed to investigate the potential for bacteriophage in animal feed and nutrition with initial emphasis on Salmonella.”
Phage technology harnesses viruses to target and destroy bacterial cells on a surface or in an organism. Phages are harmless to people, only activating when a specific bacterium is present.
“If developed appropriately, bacteriophage could have important ramifications within the poultry industry and the livestock industry at large,” Martha R. J. Clokie, professor of Microbiology at the University of Leicester, explained.
The challenges of treating Salmonella
There are currently few direct treatments for Salmonella in broilers once infection occurs.
“One of the more impactful ways to control Salmonella (and other zoonotic pathogens) in food products is to stop its incubation in live animals so control at this point of the supply chain is critical. This leads to a desire to find practical, alternative solutions that can be deployed to prevent Salmonella infection,” O’Neill added.
Salmonella is gram-negative anaerobic bacterium that is responsible for approximately 1.35 million illnesses, 26,500 hospitalizations and 420 deaths in the U.S. each year, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The bacteria has become increasingly multi-drug resistant, making it more difficult to treat.
“As such, for poultry, a targeted and specific treatment to control the Salmonella directly could be beneficial. Bacteriophages are extremely specific in their action and, unlike antibiotics and sanitization methods, do not otherwise impact the broader microbiome,” O’Neill said.
The research was conducted as part of a collaborative project by AB Agri and the University of Leicester.
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