Use of phage applications to combat MRSA at the sow-piglet interface to reduce exposure of staff and contamination of the environment (PHAGE-EX)




This project addresses the issue of occupational and environmental exposure to livestock-associated MRSA in pig farms.

Using bacterial phages, we will try to reduce the transmission of MRSA from sows to their piglets during the nursing phase. Specific phage cocktails will be designed using several phages to control MRSA on the skin of sows and in their environment. This is done to produce MRSA negative piglets in herds despite having positive sows. A reduction of MRSA in the piglets is expected to contribute to the reduction of MRSA in the whole pig production pyramid. This in turn will reduce the exposure of people working on pig farms and at slaughterhouses to this kind of MRSA. In regions with intensive pig husbandry, livestock associated MRSA may contribute substantially to the overall burden of MRSA in the hospital sector. We aim to reduce this burden.

At the same time we will study potential side effects of the use of phages in pigs on the bacterial community living on pigs, in their environment and in aerosols found in pig stables. We will study changes to this community and will also study the persistence of the bacterial phages in the bacterial community and the environment.

Finally we will model the effect of the use of the phages on the transmission of the resistant bacteria within the herds, between herds and to the public health system.

Project partners

  • Bernd-Alois Tenhagen, German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, Germany (Coordinator)
  • Udo Jäckel, Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Germany
  • Thomas Rosendal, National Veterinary Institute, Sweden, Sweden
  • Kyrre Kausrud, Norwegian Veterinary Institute, Norway
  • Annemarie Käsbohrer, University of Veterinary Medicine, Austria