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Enterococcal Infections

By Larry M. Bush, MD, Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, Florida Atlantic University;University of Miami-Miller School of Medicine/JFK Medical Center

Enterococcal infections are caused by a group of gram-positive bacteria (called enterococci), which normally reside in the intestine of healthy people but sometimes cause infection.

There are more than 17 species of enterococci, but Enterococcus faecalis and Enterococcus faecium are the species that most commonly cause infections in people. Enterococci typically cause

  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

  • Heart infection (endocarditis)

  • Wound infections

  • Abscesses in the abdomen

Symptoms depend on the location of the infection.

Doctors give antibiotics and drain any abscesses. Certain strains of enterococci have become resistant to many antibiotics and can be difficult to treat. Strains that are resistant to vancomycin are particularly problematic.

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