We collected 705 isolates of enterococci (1 per patient) from cultures of a variety of anatomic sites from patients at eight tertiary-care hospitals in six geographic regions of the United States. A total of 632 (90%) Enterococcus faecalis, 58 (8%) E. faecium, 5 E. gallinarum, 4 E. avium, 3 E. casseliflavus, 1 E. raffinosus, and 1 E. hirae isolate and 1 biochemical variant of E. faecalis were identified; 606 (86%) of these isolates were associated with clinical infections. The most common sites of isolation were the urinary tract (402 [57%]), nonsurgical wounds (94 [13%]), the bloodstream (74 [10%]), and surgical wounds (62 [9%]). High-level resistance to gentamicin or streptomycin or both was detected in 265 (38%) of the isolates. We identified two E. faecalis isolates resistant to vancomycin (MICs, 32 and 128 micrograms/ml) and 11 beta-lactamase-producing E. faecalis isolates. E. faecium isolates were significantly more resistant than E. faecalis isolates to penicillin, ampicillin, piperacillin, imipenem, and ciprofloxacin (P less than 0.001). The MICs for the 15 non-E. faecalis, non-E. faecium enterococci indicated variable resistance to ciprofloxacin and the penicillins. Antimicrobial susceptibility patterns vary among species of enterococci, and these organisms, while commonly resistant to high-level aminoglycosides, can also acquire resistance to vancomycin or the ability to produce beta-lactamase. Because of these diverse antimicrobial resistance mechanisms, successful treatment and control of enterococcal infections with current antimicrobial agents are becoming increasingly difficult.
Gordon S, Swenson JM, Hill BC, Pigott NE, Facklam RR, Cooksey RC, Thornsberry C, Jarvis WR, Tenover FC
J. Clin. Microbiol. 1992 Sep;30(9):2373-8