Diversity among multidrug-resistant enterococci

Emerg Infect Dis. Jan-Mar 1998;4(1):37-47. doi: 10.3201/eid0401.980106.


Enterococci are associated with both community- and hospital-acquired infections. Even though they do not cause severe systemic inflammatory responses, such as septic shock, enterococci present a therapeutic challenge because of their resistance to a vast array of antimicrobial drugs, including cell-wall active agents, all commercially available aminoglycosides, penicillin and ampicillin, and vancomycin. The combination of the latter two occurs disproportionately in strains resistant to many other antimicrobial drugs. The propensity of enterococci to acquire resistance may relate to their ability to participate in various forms of conjugation, which can result in the spread of genes as part of conjugative transposons, pheromone-responsive plasmids, or broad host-range plasmids. Enterococcal hardiness likely adds to resistance by facilitating survival in the environment (and thus enhancing potential spread from person to person) of a multidrug-resistant clone. The combination of these attributes within the genus Enterococcus suggests that these bacteria and their resistance to antimicrobial drugs will continue to pose a challenge.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial / genetics*
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple / genetics*
  • Enterococcus / drug effects
  • Enterococcus / genetics*
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Humans