Journal of Undergraduate Research


bacteriophage, surface sterilization, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus


Life Sciences


Microbiology and Molecular Biology


Staphylococcus aureus (SA) is potentially dangerous pathogen that can infect humans and animals alike1. The primary treatment for such infections has been antibiotics, but even shortly after antibiotics began to be used, antibiotic-resistant strains, known as MRSA, were discovered. These resistant strains have since spread, and now account for over half of all clinical isolates4. A similar scenario developed in the livestock industry. Antibiotics have been used to treat diseased animals and to promote growth in healthy animals. This use lead to development of MRSA among these animals. These animals may merely be carriers or they may develop serious disease, sometimes leading to death5. Disease and death caused by MRSA cause a significant economic loss to farmers every year. In addition, the MRSA carried by these animals poses a safety threat to both workers and consumers. One study showed that 77% of turkey, 42% of pork, 41% of chicken, and 37% of beef from grocery stores are contaminated with S. aureus. Of these, between 26% and 79% are multi-drug resistant (depending on sample type).2 With this increase in MRSA, the use of bacteriophages (phage) as a treatment and decontamination agent has become an increasingly attractive solution. Phage are viruses which infect and kill their specific bacterial host, posing no threat to humans, animals, or the “good” bacteria living in and on them. The idea of phage therapy has been around since the 1920’s, but interest waned with the discovery of antibiotics, inconsistent experiment results, and poor understanding of phage biology3. A recent study has shown the ability of phage to protect animals from S. aureus infection3. In this project we set out to test the ability of these phage to decontaminate surfaces, specifically in the context of poultry facilities.

Included in

Microbiology Commons