High-level gentamicin resistance in enterococcus: Microbiology, genetic basis, and epidemiology

Jan Evans Patterson, Marcus J. Zervos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Antibiotic resistanceis an ever-increasingproblem in enterococci. These bacteria are remarkable in their ability to acquire and disseminate antibiotic resistance genes by a variety of routes. Since first described in 1979, high-level resistance to gentamicin (MIC, <2, 000 μBg/mL) has spread worldwide and has been responsible for serious infections. Resistance is plasmid-mediated and due to aminoglycoside-modifying enzymes. High-levelgentamicin resistance indicates that there will be no synergistic bactericidal activity with penicillingentamicin combinations. The epidemiology of nosocomial enterococcal infections is remarkably similar to that of nosocomial infections caused by methicillin-resistant staphylococci and by multidrug-resistant gram-negative bacilli. The most likely way these resistant bacteria are spread among hospital patients is via transient carriage on the hands of hospital personnel. Patient-to-patient and interhospital transmission of strains has been reported recently. However, clonal dissemination is not the cause of the increased frequency of resistant strains, since gentamicin resistance appears in a variety of different conjugative and nonconjugative plasmids in Enterococcus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)644-652
Number of pages9
JournalReviews of Infectious Diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)


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