Using bacteriophages against MRSA in pigs

Livestock-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (LA-MRSA) is widely disseminated among Finnish pigs. In most cases, it does not affect the colonized pigs but it poses a risk to people working in close contact with LA-MRSA positive animals. As S. aureus is zoonotic, farmers, veterinarians and others in frequent contact with LA-MRSA carrying animals may themselves become carriers. Affected people may further transmit LA-MRSA to the society and to healthcare facilities. There it may cause infections and epidemics in surgical patients, immunocompromised and critically ill patients.

This pilot project studies the use of bacteriophages to dicrease the occurrence of LA-MRSA in pigs. Bacteriophages are viruses which infect bacteria to replicate and eventually kill their host in the process. Bacteriophage therapy is studied as an alternative to antimicrobial treatment. Bacteriophages are highly host specific and thus do not have similar effects on the gut microbiome as antimicrobials. If bacterial levels in pigs can be reduced by phage treatment the risk for further spread to humans decreases.

The study is part of the AmiFoPo - Preventing Antimicrobial Resistance in Food Production Animals project funded by the Academy of Finland 2016-2018.