Heat and chemical resistance of enterococci

J Hosp Infect. 1996 Nov;34(3):191-6. doi: 10.1016/s0195-6701(96)90065-1.


Recent reports have highlighted the tolerance of vancomycin-resistant strains of enterococci to heat. This study examined the tolerance of vancomycin-resistant and sensitive strains of enterococci and an NCTC type strain to 65, 71 and 80 degrees C, and also to low concentrations of a chlorine-releasing agent, alcohol and glutaraldehyde. Variation in the tolerance to chemicals was observed but there was no correlation between vancomycin resistance and tolerance to chemical disinfectants. The NCTC type strain was killed within the time/temperature parameters set by the Department of Health for thermal washer/disinfectors, i.e. 65 degrees C for 10 min, 71 degrees C for 3 min and 80 degrees C for 1 min. However, the clinical strains showed varying resistance to heat, irrespective of their vancomycin susceptibility. One strain survived 80 degrees C for 3 min. These results showed that clinical isolates can be resistant to commonly used disinfection processes, although the practical significance of these results is debatable.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Alcohols / pharmacology
  • Chlorine / pharmacology
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Disinfectants / pharmacology
  • Disinfection / methods*
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial*
  • Enterococcus / drug effects*
  • Glutaral / pharmacology
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / prevention & control*
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Vancomycin / pharmacology*


  • Alcohols
  • Disinfectants
  • Chlorine
  • Vancomycin
  • Glutaral