New prebiotic for Salmonella in pigs
Studies are currently underway to investigate the use
of galacto-oligosaccharide prebiotics to protect animals from Salmonella
infection and other food poisoning bacteria.
called galacto-oligosaccharides, are already known to improve the health of
breast-fed infants. Researchers are now looking at using these prebiotics in
place of antibiotics in pigs, poultry and livestock to reduce the chances of
Salmonella bacteria damaging the gut during a food poisoning episode, reducing
the overall damage and severity of the infection.
"Antibiotics are used to treat particularly severe Salmonella infections,"
says Laura Searle from the Veterinary Laboratories Agency in the UK. "But their
effectiveness has been undermined by their systematic use both as growth
promoters in animals and as therapeutic agents, which has been implicated in
widespread antibiotic resistance. In an attempt to overcome this problem the EU
banned the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in 2006, so now alternatives
are urgently being investigated."
How it works
One possibility is to use prebiotics made
from natural complex sugars that are already known to improve gastrointestinal
health. There have been many theories put forward about the way they actually
work, including the suggestion that they may stimulate our natural gut bacteria
to multiply, allowing them to fight off invading pathogens trying to
The Veterinary Laboratories Agency has initiated a project to demonstrate the
exact mechanism for the apparent success of a novel galacto-oligosaccharide
mixture. Their studies have now shown that the specific mixture protects animals
from infection by reducing the invasion capabilities of Salmonella, and lowering
the seriousness of disease symptoms. After treatment with this mixture, fewer
Salmonella bacteria were found in systemic and intestinal tissues.
Used on farm level
"The next step will be to see if the
novel galacto-oligosaccharide mixture can be used in farm livestock
successfully, and whether it is still as effective when given before a
Salmonella infection, protecting the animals in advance. We also need to see if
it can protect against other pathogens," Searle continues.
Veterinary scientists hope that their tests will prove whether it is actually
successful in farm animals, reducing gastrointestinal infections, improving
animal health and cutting economic losses. The scientists need to now discover
the exact mechanisms by which the sugars work.
â€¢ Veterinary Laboratories
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