Enterococcus Faecium Meningitis Overview

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Enterococcus is one of the most common causes of infections and is becoming increasingly more resistant to many antibiotics, including the one that was previously known to eradicate it, known as vancomycin. The enterococcus is called gram-positive, and are facultative anaerobes meaning that they can grow in short chains and do not need air to grow or live. They can live in bile salt, sodium chloride and even cause PYR reactions. This bacteria normally lives in the bowels, and is normally found in pelvic infections, but can migrate to other areas such as the lungs and brain, causing meningitis.

Transmission

The most common transmission of Enterococcus Faecium Meningitis according to the Federal Government is healthcare workers whose hands have gotten contaminated from fecal material or urine as well as blood from a person carrying the bacteria. These bacteria can survive for weeks on end, and are not transmitted through the air. The two types called E. Faecium and E. Faecalis are the most frequently found species that are vancomycin-resistant and make them very hard to fight off. These are almost always found in patients that have recently been hospitalized.

Symptoms

Symptoms of the infection will depend on where the infection lies. The most common sites of the infection include intestines, wounds and the urinary tract. If the infection is in a wound, that area will be red and tender as well as swollen. If the urinary tract is infected, there could be back pain and burning when urination takes place. Other symptoms include nausea, fever and chills as well as severe headaches and diarrhea with no cause.

Diagnosis

The two types of resistant meningitis are acquired, meaning other bacteria come into contact with enterococci and share cells, and the intrinsic is simply a natural resistance. Blood tests are available that will look at your CBC or complete blood count to see if white blood cells are reacting to the bacteria, as well as help to determine the strain of meningitis you are afflicted with. Some health care practitioners will test you for the resistant meningitis simply to make sure you are not colonized with the bacteria. Stool and urine tests as well as blood can be tested to find out what type of antibiotics will work for your specific infection.

Treatment of Enterococcus Faecium Meningitis

Many of these infections can be treated with other antibiotics including penicillin, clindamycin and erythromycin and tetracycline. Determining which treatment will work best for each patient is left to the physician and knowing the strain with which the patient is infected with. If you have been colonized with the bacteria but do not have an infection, you probably will not need treatment.

Side Effects of Treatment

Many patients develop side effects from the medications required for treatment. Fever, nausea, headaches, dizziness, upset stomach and loss of appetite are all common side effects. Every patient is different, and may experience a few or none of the side effects. Since the medications are commonly given for other infections, a physician or pharmacist can give more in depth information about drug interactions with other medications a patient may be taking.

Resources

Emedicine.com from the article Enterococcal Infection last up date Nov. 20, 2008

MedicineNet.com from the article Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci publication date unknown