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Clin Infect Dis. 1997 Apr;24(4):704-6.

Skin colonization with vancomycin-resistant enterococci among hospitalized patients with bacteremia.

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Department of Medicine, Rush Medical College, Chicago, Illinois, USA.


To assess the prevalence of skin and rectal colonization by vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) in hospitalized bacteremic patients and to determine the relation between colonization and bacteremia, we compared 14 case patients who had bacteremia due to VRE with 30 control patients who had bacteremia due to other pathogens. Rectal colonization and skin (inguinal area and/or antecubital fossa) colonization with VRE were common among both case patients (100% had rectal colonization, and 86% had skin colonization) and control patients (37% had rectal colonization and 23% had skin colonization). Among patients with rectal colonization, skin colonization was more common when diarrhea or fecal incontinence was present. The bloodstream cleared without appropriate antimicrobial therapy in nine of the 14 patients with bacteremia due to VRE. The high prevalence of skin colonization with VRE may increase the risk of catheter-related sepsis, cross-infection, or blood culture contamination (which may explain the frequent spontaneous resolution of bacteremia due to VRE).

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