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J Vasc Access. 2004 Jan-Mar;5(1):3-9.

Emerging role of Enterococcus spp in catheter-related infections: biofilm formation and novel mechanisms of antibiotic resistance.

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Department of Technologies and Health, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy.


Enterococci are gram-positive bacteria that are part of the normal human intestinal flora and can colonize the upper respiratory tract, biliary tract and vagina of otherwise healthy people. Although their virulence is relatively low, recently enterococci have emerged as significant nosocomial pathogens and are currently the 4th leading cause of hospital-acquired infections, including those associated with intravascular catheter and biliary stent implants. The frequent use of these medical devices is often associated with severe complications, including catheter-related bloodstream infections (CRBSIs) and biliary stent occlusions, because of microbial biofilm formation on the device surface. Furthermore, other than a high level of resistance to penicillin, ampicillin and aminoglycosides, a dramatic increase in vancomycin resistance of enterococci has been recently observed in most clinical settings. Clinical strains exhibiting novel mechanisms of acquired resistance to antimicrobials are frequently isolated. In addition, enterococci have a great ability to transmit these resistance traits to other species and even to other genera. Due to their associated morbidity and mortality, enterococcal infections related to medical devices currently represent a major challenge for clinicians, especially for the management of critically ill patients, resulting in prolonged hospitalization and additional health costs.


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