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J Clin Microbiol. 2014 May;52(5):1682-6. doi: 10.1128/JCM.03563-13. Epub 2014 Feb 12.

Outbreak of vancomycin-susceptible Enterococcus faecium containing the wild-type vanA gene.

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Brant Community Healthcare System-Brantford General Hospital, Brantford, Canada.


Accurate detection of vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) is essential in preventing transmission in health care settings. Chromogenic media are widely used for screening VRE because of fast turnaround times (TAT) and high sensitivity. We report an outbreak of Enterococcus faecium bearing vanA yet susceptible to vancomycin (vancomycin-variable Enterococcus [VVE]). Between October 2009 to March 2011, clinical and screening specimens (n=14,747) were screened for VRE using VRE-selective medium and/or PCR. VVE isolates were genotyped to determine relatedness. Plasmids from these isolates were characterized by sequencing. Overall, 52 VVE isolates were identified, comprising 15% of all VRE isolates identified. Isolates demonstrated growth on Brilliance VRE agar (Oxoid) at 24 h of incubation but did not grow on brain heart infusion agar with 6 μg/ml vancomycin (Oxoid) or bile esculin azide agar with 6 μg/ml vancomycin (Oxoid) and were susceptible to vancomycin. Genotyping of 20 randomly selected VVE isolates revealed that 15/20 were identical, while 5 were highly related. PCR of the VVE transposon confirmed the presence of vanHAXY gene cluster; however, vanS (sensor) and vanR (regulator) genes were absent. The outbreak was controlled through routine infection control measures. We report an emergence of a fit strain of E. faecium containing vanA yet susceptible to vancomycin. Whether this new strain represents VRE has yet to be determined; however, unique testing procedures are required for reliable identification of VVE.

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