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Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis. 1997 Sep;29(1):43-9.

Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus raffinosus: molecular epidemiology, species identification error, and frequency of occurrence in a national resistance surveillance program.

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Department of Pathology, University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City, 52242, USA.


Enterococcal blood stream infections are the third most common among all nosocomial blood stream infections in the United States and the occurrence of glycopeptide (vancomycin, teicoplanin) resistance in these isolates has markedly increased. Control of hospital-acquired infections with vancomycin-resistant enterococci requires high quality antimicrobial susceptibility test methods and species identification procedures as a supplement to epidemiologic investigation and appropriate infection control procedures. In this report, bacteremias caused by Enterococcus avium (BioMerieux Vitek, Hazelwood, MO, USA) were observed to be Enterococcus raffinosus infections (six of eight cases; 1.1% of all cases) when reference biochemical identification methods were applied. The vancomycin-susceptible E. raffinosis (two strains) and E. avium (two strains) had unique phenotypic and genotypic molecular profiles. In contrast, four vancomycin-resistant E. raffinosus strains (van A by polymerase chain reaction) from a single institution had the same phenotypic and molecular (PCR, PFGE, ribotyping) pattern, indicating clonal dissemination among four patients over a 66-day period. Clinical laboratories should be aware of the high probability that van A genes may be transferred from Enterococcus faecium or Enterococcus faecalis to other more rarely encountered Enterococcus species. Also contemporary, widely used commercial identification systems may fail to accurately identify those rare species. Errors appear to be most prevalent for E. avium, Enterococcus durans, and E. raffinosus based on the experience of the SCOPE Program.

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