What are Enterococci?
Enterococci are Gram-positive cocci that are part of the normal intestinal flora of humans and animals. Examples of species that are clinically important are Enterococcus faecalis and Enterococcus faecium, which cause a variety of infections including cellulitis, wound infections, endocarditis, urinary tract infections (UTIs), prostatitis, intra-abdominal infections and bloodstream infections. Some enterococci are naturally resistant to common beta-lactam antibiotics (e.g. penicillins, cephalosporins and carbapenems), as well as many aminoglycosides. Other antibiotics such as vancomycin can be used to treat infections where first-line antibiotics are not effective. However, vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) have emerged in healthcare settings. VREs are sometimes called “superbugs” as they are resistant to most antibiotics and infections are difficult to treat. This pathogen can cause healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).