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Development of Non-antibiotic Alternatives for Food-Borne Pathogen Control in Turkeys

Hargis, Billy; Donoghue, Ann
University of Arkansas
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  1. Develop techniques for rapidisolation and bacterial characterization of bacteriophages which aggressively attack selected enteric poultry pathogens.
  2. Determine predictive characteristics of bacteriophages which effectively limit or eliminate specific bacterial pathogens in the poultry gastrointestinal tract.
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APPROACH: Bacteriophages will be purified from environmental samples likely to contain target organisms. Bacteriophages will be characterized by plaque size and morphology, bacterial host range, temperature sensitivity and reproduction rate. Selected phages will be further characterized by DNA/RNA content and differentiated by restriction fragment length polymorphisms analysis. These in vitro characterizations will allow for unique identification patterns for isolated bacteriophages. Discrete characterization patterns (biotyping) will ultimately allow determination of the appropriate in vitro conditions for selection of appropriate bacteriophages for in vivo application. Once characterized, bacteriophage stocks will then be tested in vivo to determine the prophylactic and therapeutic effects in turkeys in the presence and absence of pathogenic challenge. Selected bacteriophage combinations, or serial administration of selected bacteriophages will be dministered to infected turkeys for in vivo therapeutic efficacy evaluation.

PROGRESS: 2001/09 TO 2006/08
Progress Report 4d Progress report. This report documents research conducted under a specific cooperative agreement between ARS and the University of Arkansas. Additional details of research can be found in the report for the in-house associated project 6226-32000-007-00D, Development of Alternative Approaches to Antibiotics for Controlling Bacterial Pathogens and Disease In Turkey and Chickens. Effective use of competitive exclusion cultures, also known as probiotics, relies on administration of beneficial bacteria to young animals to accelerate intestinal maturity and reduce the prevalence of Salmonella infection. Without such treatment, neonatal chicks and poults are susceptible to infection by very low numbers of pathogens. These products are mixtures of bacteria with the ability to reduce or exclude pathogenic colonization in chicks or poults. While competitive exclusion has been shown to have tremendous potential, existing cultures lack consistent efficacy, may be expensive or difficult to administer, or could potentially harbor unknown pathogens. We have developed methods to pre-select microbes based on their ability to out compete foodborne pathogens in vitro. In vivo testing of combinations of these pre- selected microbes have demonstrated consistent efficacy against Salmonella in poultry. To date, over 125 isolates capable of competing against Salmonella enteritidis, in vitro, have been identified from over 8 million isolates screened. These cultures have been identified to species level, grown as related groups, and tested on chicks and poults for prophylactic efficacy. A defined culture consisting of nine bacterial organisms was tested in a large commercial turkey field trial in the United States. In these studies, performance was enhanced, mortality was reduced, and Salmonella detection on carcasses at the processing plant was reduced by almost 50%. Probiotic technology has been licensed through ARS and the University of Arkansas to a private company Sigrah-Zellet Inc. Product developed from this research has been field tested by Cargill Turkeys Inc. in millions of birds from Arkansas, Missouri, and Virginia, resulting in notable reduction in pathogen contamination, reduced mortality, and improved health of young poults. The product (FloraMax-B11) was made available in 2004 making a profit the first year (~100 million birds treated). In 2005, 1 billion doses were sold and the company expects a 50% increase in total usage in 2006. The product is being marketed in South Korea, Japan, and Mexico, and 6 additional countries are in the final stages of acquiring import permits. Extrapolating current data, which indicates chickens and turkeys treated with this probiotic results in increasing meat yields which translates to a greater than 6 million dollar increase in production yields for every 300 million birds treated in the US/year.

Funding Source
Agricultural Research Service
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Natural Toxins
Bacterial Pathogens
Meat, Poultry, Game