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Bacteriophage treatment is a promising tool to reduce Campylobacter in chickens. Several studies have been published where group II or group III phages were successfully applied. However, these two groups of phages are different regarding their host ranges and host cell receptors. Therefore, a concerted activity of group II and group III phages might enhance the efficacy of a treatment and decrease the number of resistant bacteria.
In this study we have compared the lytic properties of some group II and group III phages and analysed the suitability of various phages for a reduction of C. jejuni in broiler chickens. We show that group II and group III phages exhibit different kinetics of infection. Two group III and one group II phage were selected for animal experiments and administered in different combinations to three groups of chickens, each containing ten birds. While group III phage CP14 alone reduced Campylobacter counts by more than 1 log10 unit, the concomitant administration of a second group III phage (CP81) did not yield any reduction, probably due to the development of resistance induced by this phage. One group of chickens received phage CP14 and, 24 hours later, group II phage CP68. In this group of animals, Campylobacter counts were reduced by more than 3 log10 units.
The experiments illustrated that Campylobacter phage cocktails have to be carefully composed to achieve the best results.