The interaction between staphylococci and Group A beta hemolytic streptococci in mixed lesions was investigated in an experimental impetigo model. A strain of staphylococcus of phage Type 71, which has been shown in vitro to produce a bacteriocin for streptococci and other Gram-positive organisms, eliminates or reduces Group A streptococci in mixed lesions. In contrast, staphylococcal strains of phage Types 75 and 81, which do not produce a demonstrable bacteriocin in vitro, exhibit no such effect.
Some variation was noted in the in vivo response of two different streptococcal M Types to the bactericidal effect of phage Type 71 staphylococci. Bacterial antagonism is more pronounced when staphylococci and streptococci are injected simultaneously into animals than when staphylococci are superimposed on preexisting streptococcal lesions.
Marked variations were found in the numbers of viable streptococci (colony-forming units) recovered from individual lesions containing identical mixtures of streptococci and phage Type 71 staphylococci. The frequency of a demonstrable bactericidal effect was related to the number of streptococci injected. With small inocula of streptococci, the tendency towards an all-or-none effect was particularly striking. No evidence of selection of streptococcal or staphylococcal mutants which might explain this phenomenon was obtained.
These observations suggest that the bactericidal effect of phage Type 71 staphylococci on other Gram-positive organisms, previously demonstrated in vitro, appears to operate also in vivo.