Caption: Enterococcus faecium (also known as Streptococcus faecium) - Gram-positive, vancomycin resistant, coccus prokaryote that grows in groups or chains. Shown here is a single cell undergoing bacterial division (fission). Enterococcus faecium is commonly found in the guts of humans and other animals. It does not normally cause disease, but can be an opportunistic pathogen and may cause various types of infections when the immune system is impaired. It is an important nosocomial pathogen (infects hospital patients) and has recently been referred to as a 'supergerm' or 'superbug' due to their resistance to antibiotics. They are robust microbes able to tolerate relatively high salt and acid concentrations. They also seem to be able to withstand low levels of detergents, explaining why inadequate cleaning procedures can promote Enterococcus infections. The microbe can survive for long periods of time in soil, sewage, and inside hospitals on a variety of surfaces. Infections that can occur include: abdominal infections, skin infections, urinary tract infections, endocarditis, oral cavity infections, vaginal tract infections and infections of the blood stream. E. faecium is known to have a resistance to several types of antibiotics including gentamicin, tetracycline, erythromycin, teicoplanin and penicillin. Vancomycin resistant strains (VRE) were reported in the US in 1989.
Magnification*: x18,000
Type: SEM
Copyright 2008 Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc.
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