Bacteriophages are viruses, whose unique ability to infect and lyse bacterial cells may provide valuable insight for evading the repercussions of a post-antibiotic era in medicine. This study isolated and characterized Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus bacteriophage on students and faculty at Coastal Carolina University as a means to understand the viability of human bacteriophage reservoirs for bacteriophage therapy. From September 2021 to March 2022, nasal and postauricular swab samples and a behavioral survey were collected from ninety-three randomly selected participants. Additionally, sixteen participants contributed nasal and postauricular swab samples and a behavioral survey on a monthly basis in a longitudinal study. The purpose of this study was to establish insight into behavioral factors, namely face mask wearing, handwashing/ sanitizing, and perceived stress levels, that potentially contribute to the E. coli and S. aureus bacteriophage dynamics. During the current collection cycle, 2021-2022, there has been a reemergence of bacteriophage since their disappearance the previous collection year. Results indicate participant engagement in mask wearing or handwashing/ sanitizing does not affect coliphage presence, but participants with coliphage presence generally had lower perceived stress levels than those lacking coliphage. Data was limited and correlations could not be made between S. aureus bacteriophage presence and the aforementioned behavioral factors. However, limited data suggests face mask wearing may be correlated to a lack of S. aureus bacteriophage presence on a host.
Swanson, Korinne M.; Smith, Owen R.; and Richardson, Paul E.
"The Effects of Human Behavioral Changes due to the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Reservoir of Lytic Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus Bacteriophage on Humans at a South Carolina University,"
Journal of the South Carolina Academy of Science: Vol. 20:
2, Article 7.
Available at: https://scholarcommons.sc.edu/jscas/vol20/iss2/7