The main risk factor for human carriage of livestock associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is direct contact with colonised animals or contaminated environmental materials, along with airborne exposure. Sows are at the top of the pig production pyramid, when colonised, constitute a permanent source of MRSA further down the production pyramid. An all-in all-out strategy with efficient cleaning and disinfection is economically not feasible in pig breeding units. This study aims at breaking the cycle through successfully raising MRSA-negative piglets from positive sows to reduce the infection pressure in the production chain and the associated human and environmental exposure.
Interventions will be applied to reduce MRSA directly on the mother-offspring interface by using farm-specific phage-cocktails at the sow-piglet interface. MRSA reduction will be studied through repeated sampling of sows and piglets. Likewise, the impact of the phage treatment on the microbiome dynamics and specifically on MRSA in animals, their environment and in bioaerosols including the exposure of farm staff will be investigated by meta-omics approaches. The impact of the phage application on the prevalence of MRSA in breeding pigs, herds receiving breeding pigs and the effect on the colonisation of farm staff and public health will be investigated by modelling. Phage application is expected support “one health” by reducing MRSA in the animal population and consequently reducing exposure of farm staff and environmental contamination.