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Application Of Bacteriophages To Control Intestinal Escherichia Coli O157:H7 Levels In Ruminants

Haiqing Sheng, Hannah J. Knecht, Indira T. Kudva, Carolyn J. Hovde

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ABSTRACT A previously characterized O157-specific lytic bacteriophage KH1 and a newly isolated phage designated SH1 were tested, alone or in combination, for reducing intestinal Escherichia coli O157:H7 in animals. Oral treatment with phage KH1 did not reduce the intestinal E. coli O157:H7 in sheep. Phage SH1 formed clear and relatively larger plaques on lawns of all 12 E. coli O157:H7 isolates tested and had a broader host range than phage KH1, lysing O55:H6 and 18 of 120 non-O157 E. coli isolates tested. In vitro, mucin or bovine mucus did not inhibit bacterial lysis by phage SH1 or KH1. A phage treatment protocol was optimized using a mouse model of E. coli O157:H7 intestinal carriage. Oral treatment with SH1 or a mixture of SH1 and KH1 at phage/bacterium ratios ≥10 2 terminated the presence of fecal E. coli O157:H7 within 2 to 6 days after phage treatment. Untreated control mice remained culture positive for >10 days. To optimize bacterial carriage and phage delivery in cattle, E. coli O157:H7 was applied rectally to Holstein steers 7 days before the administration of 10 10 PFU SH1 and KH1. Phages were applied directly to the rectoanal junction mucosa at phage/bacterium ratios calculated to be ≥10 2 . In addition, phages were maintained at 10 6 PFU/ml in the drinking water of the phage treatment group. This phage therapy reduced the average number of E. coli O157:H7 CFU among phage-treated steers compared to control steers ( P < 0.05); however, it did not eliminate the bacteria from the majority of steers.