Background: Combat-related extremity wound infections can complicate the recovery of injured military personnel. The Enterococcus genus contains both commensal and pathogenic bacteria found in many combat wounds. We describe the patient population susceptible to Enterococcus infection, the characteristics of Enterococcus spp. isolated from combat-related wounds, and the microbiological profile of Enterococcus-positive wounds.
Methods: Patient and culture data were obtained from the Trauma Infectious Disease Outcomes Study. Subjects were divided into a case group with enterococcal extremity wound infections and a comparator group with wound infections caused by other micro-organisms.
Results: Case and comparator subjects had similar patterns of injury and infection. Case subjects had higher Injury Severity Scores (33 vs. 30; p < 0.001), longer hospitalization at U.S. facilities (55 vs. 40 days; p = 0.004), and required more large-volume blood transfusions (>20 units) within 24 h post-injury (53% vs. 30%; p < 0.001). Approximately 60% of case subjects had three or more infections, and 91% had one or more polymicrobial infections, compared with 43% and 50%, respectively, in the comparator group. The thigh was the most common site of Enterococcus spp. isolation, contributing 50% of isolates. Enterococcus faecium was the predominant species isolated from case-group infections overall (66%), as well as in polymicrobial infections (74%). Frequent co-colonizing microbes in polymicrobial wound infections with Enterococcus were other ESKAPE pathogens (64%) (Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae [and Escherichia coli], Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterobacter spp.) and fungi (35%).
Conclusions: The specific pathogenicity of Enterococcus relative to other pathogens in polymicrobial wounds is unknown. Identifying strain-specific outcomes and investigating the interactions of Enterococcus strains with other wound pathogens could provide additional tools and strategies for infection mitigation in combat-related wounds.
Keywords: ESKAPE pathogens; Enterococcus faecalis; Enterococcus faecium; combat-trauma–related infections.