Author(s): Klare I, Konstabel C, Badstbner D, Werner G, Witte W
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Abstract Enterococci are the second to third most important bacterial genus in hospital infections. Especially Enterococcus (E.) faecium possesses a broad spectrum of natural and acquired antibiotic resistances which are presented in detail in this paper. From medical point of view, the transferable resistances to glycopeptides (e.g., vancomycin, VAN, or teicoplanin, TPL) and streptogramins (e.g., quinupristin/dalfopristin, Q/D) in enterococci are of special interest. The VanA type of enterococcal glycopeptide resistance is the most important one (VAN-r, TPL-r); its main reservoir is E. faecium. Glycopeptide-resistant E. faecium (GREF) can be found in hospitals and outside of them, namely in European commercial animal husbandry in which the glycopeptide avoparcin (AVO) was used as growth promoter in the past. There are identical types of the vanA gene clusters in enterococci from different ecological origins (faecal samples of animals, animal feed, patients in hospitals, persons in the community, waste water samples). Obviously, across the food chain (by GREF-contaminated meat products), these multiple-resistant bacteria or their vanA gene clusters can reach humans. In hospital infections, widespread epidemic-virulent E. faecium isolates of the same clone with or without glycopeptide resistance can occur; these strains often harbour different plasmids and the esp gene. This indicates that hospital-adapted epidemic-virulent E. faecium strains have picked up the vanA gene cluster after they were already widely spread. The streptogramin virginiamycin was also used as feed additive in commercial animal husbandry in Europe for more than 20 years, and it created reservoirs for streptogramin-resistant E. faecium (SREF). In 1998/1999, SREF could be isolated in Germany from waste water of sewage treatment plants, from faecal samples and meat products of animals that were fed virginiamycin (cross resistance to Q/D), from stools of humans in the community, and from clinical samples. These isolations of SREF occurred in a time before the streptogramin combination Q/D was introduced for therapeutic purposes in German hospitals in May 2000, while other streptogramins were not used in German clinics. This seems to indicate that the origin of these SREF or their streptogramin resistance gene(s) originated from other sources outside the hospitals, probably from commercial animal husbandry. In order to prevent the dissemination of multiple antibiotic-resistant enterococci or their transferable resistance genes, a prudent use of antibiotics is necessary in human and veterinary medicine, and in animal husbandry.
This article was published in Int J Food Microbiol
and referenced in Journal of Bacteriology & Parasitology