Document Type



Animal Sciences | Biology | Life Sciences

Publication Details

Animal Health Research Reviews, 1-43. Copyright © The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press


Antibiotic resistance has become a major health concern globally, with current predictions expecting deaths related to resistant infections to surpass those of cancer by 2050. Major efforts are being undertaken to develop derivative and novel alternatives to current antibiotic therapies in human medicine. What appears to be lacking however, are similar efforts into researching the application of those alternatives, such as (bacterio)phage therapy, in veterinary contexts. Agriculture is still undoubtedly the most prominent consumer of antibiotics, with up to 70 % of annual antibiotic usage attributed to this sector, despite policies to reduce their use in food animals. This not only increases the risk of resistant infections spreading from farm to community, but also the risk that animals may acquire species specific infections that subvert treatment. While these diseases may not directly affect human welfare, they greatly affect the profit margin of industries reliant on livestock due to the cost of treatments and (more frequently) the losses associated with animal death. This means actively combatting animal infection not only benefits animal welfare, but global economies. In particular, targeting recurring or chronic conditions associated with certain livestock has the potential to greatly reduce financial losses. This can be achieved by developing novel diagnostics to quickly identify ill animals alongside the design of novel therapies. To explore this concept further, this review employs Johne’s disease, a chronic gastroenteritis condition that affects ruminants, as a case study to exemplify the benefits of rapid diagnostics and effective treatment of chronic disease, with particular regard to the diagnostic and therapeutic potential of phage.