What is Enterococcus Faecalis?

Madeleine A.
Madeleine A.
Thorough hand washing can help prevent an enterococcus infection.
Thorough hand washing can help prevent an enterococcus infection.

Enterococcus faecalis is an enterococcus bacteria frequently present in the gastrointestinal tracts of humans and animals. It can cause serious health problems when it is transmitted from person to person via physical contact. Typically, this bacteria is transferred to water and soil through feces from animals. Preventing transmission generally involves thoroughly washing hands after cleaning pet waste and employing proper hand-washing techniques after using the restroom. Hospitalized patients are especially vulnerable to enterococcus faecalis because of their weakened condition and because the bacteria is known to populate catheters and rectal thermometers.

Enterococcus faecalis is a bacteria frequently found in the gastrointestinal tract of humans.
Enterococcus faecalis is a bacteria frequently found in the gastrointestinal tract of humans.

Sometimes, in a hospital or long-term care setting, instruments can be transferred between patients. If they are not properly sanitized, or if the health care providers do not properly wash their hands, the patient can become infected. Because a hospital-acquired, or nosocomial, infection can contribute to complications in the patient, every effort relating to proper infection control standards needs to be considered. Physicians also must be alerted if a patient exhibits symptoms such as severe abdominal cramping, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. In addition, fever or blood in the stool should alert the physician to begin testing stool and blood to rule out an enterococcus faecalis bacterial infection.

Enterococcus faecalis is the bacteria responsible for infections of the urinary tract.
Enterococcus faecalis is the bacteria responsible for infections of the urinary tract.

Commonly, enterococcus faecalis is the bacteria responsible for infections of surgical wounds and the urinary tract. This bacteria is often mistaken for the streptococci infection and sometimes it is mistakenly not considered to be serious. Some strains of the enterococcus faecalis bacteria are resistant to treatment with antibiotics, so eradicating it from the body is often challenging. Typically, the bacteria is especially hearty and can thrive even in acidic and alkaline environments, both of which are hostile to most bacteria. Although there are no exact ways to prevent acquiring this resistant bacterial infection, steps can be taken to reduce the risk.

Exposure to enterococcus faecalis may cause severe abdominal cramping.
Exposure to enterococcus faecalis may cause severe abdominal cramping.

Eating a healthy diet rich in fiber generally helps the gastrointestinal system function at an optimal level and promotes regularity. Usually, when the gastrointestinal system is healthy, the naturally occurring enterococcus faecalis bacteria will have a more difficult time causing systemic complications. Preventing this infection is easier than treating it. Simple hygiene practices generally keep the infection at bay, but when symptoms present themselves, they need to be evaluated and treated as soon as possible to prevent complications. These complications can include dehydration and secondary infection, which can lead to severe kidney damage if not properly treated.

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Discussion Comments

anon340777

My 14 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with Enterococcus Faecalis, Pseudomonas Fluorescens/putida and Staphylococcus Epidermidis.

I am so confused because her dermatologist referred her to see an infectious disease doctor. When I called and explained what was going on and said that her dermatologist wanted to have her admitted with IV antibiotics, the disease clinic said they didn't do those kinds of things and recommended she visit the ER. Please, if someone knows anything about any or all of the above bacterias that I mentioned, let me know as I am so confused at this point about what to do and so very worried about my daughter's future health.

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    • Thorough hand washing can help prevent an enterococcus infection.
      Thorough hand washing can help prevent an enterococcus infection.
    • Enterococcus faecalis is a bacteria frequently found in the gastrointestinal tract of humans.
      Enterococcus faecalis is a bacteria frequently found in the gastrointestinal tract of humans.
    • Enterococcus faecalis is the bacteria responsible for infections of the urinary tract.
      Enterococcus faecalis is the bacteria responsible for infections of the urinary tract.
    • Exposure to enterococcus faecalis may cause severe abdominal cramping.
      Exposure to enterococcus faecalis may cause severe abdominal cramping.
    • Fever may accompany an enterococcus faecalis infection.
      Fever may accompany an enterococcus faecalis infection.
    • Complications of enterococcus faecalis may include severe kidney damage.
      Complications of enterococcus faecalis may include severe kidney damage.
    • Hospitalized patients are vulnerable to enterococcus faecalis because the bacteria is known to populate  rectal thermometers.
      Hospitalized patients are vulnerable to enterococcus faecalis because the bacteria is known to populate rectal thermometers.
    • Drinking water can help treat dehydration, which is a common complication of enterococcus faecalis.
      Drinking water can help treat dehydration, which is a common complication of enterococcus faecalis.