Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)

Phage biocontrol of Campylobacter : a One Health approach

Human infections by Campylobacter species are among the most reported bacterial gastrointestinal diseases in the European Union and worldwide with severe outcomes in rare cases. Considering the transmission routes and farm animal reservoirs of these zoonotic pathogens, a comprehensive One Health approach will be necessary to reduce human infection rates. Bacteriophages are viruses that specifically infect certain bacterial genera, species, strains or isolates. Multiple studies have demonstrated the general capacity of phage treatments to reduce Campylobacter loads in the chicken intestine. However, phage treatments are not yet approved for extensive use in the agro-food industry in Europe. Technical inconvenience is mainly related to the efficacy of phages, depending on the optimal choice of phages and their combination, as well as application route, concentration and timing. Additionally, regulatory uncertainties have been a major concern for investment in commercial phage-based products. This review addresses the question as to how phages can be put into practice and can help to solve the issue of human campylobacteriosis in a sustainable One Health approach. By compiling the reported findings from the literature in a standardized manner, we enabled inter-experimental comparisons to increase our understanding of phage infection in Campylobacter spp. and practical on-farm studies. Further, we address some of the hurdles that still must be overcome before this new methodology can be adapted on an industrial scale. We envisage that phage treatment can become an integrated and standardized part of a multi-hurdle anti-bacterial strategy in food production. The last part of this chapter deals with some of the issues raised by legal authorities, bringing together current knowledge on Campylobacter-specific phages and the biosafety requirements for approval of phage treatment in the food industry.

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