The pathogenicity of the enterococcus remains controversial despite recognition of this organism in inflammatory exudates. A review of 114 patients with 123 bacteremic events with enterococcus from all hospital services was undertaken. A total of 46% were in the perioperative period. The clinical indications for blood culture varied, but only 19 patients had septic shock at the time. Employing three or more associated diseases as a definition, 71 patients were considered chronically ill. The primary sources of bacteremia were commonly urinary tract (22), soft tissue (17), and intra-abdominal (12). An impressive total of 48 patients had no discernible primary focus of infection. Except for the urinary tract, infections tended to be polymicrobial; 51 patients had associated synchronous or metachronous polymicrobial bacteremias. Antibiotic therapy appropriate for enterococcus did not favorably influence outcome. By chi-square analysis, patients with urinary tract and soft tissue infections had significantly better survival rates than the group as a whole, while patients with intra-abdominal sepsis, polymicrobial bacteremia, or an unknown focus of infection did statistically worse. Enterococcal bacteremia results in a high mortality (54%); its frequent identification with other facultative and anaerobic organisms may indicate that it has a synergistic role; the frequency of unexplained bacteremias stimulates speculation that primary bacteremia from the gastrointestinal tract may be a plausible explanation.
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