Enterococcal Infections Treatment & Management

Updated: Aug 04, 2017
  • Author: Susan L Fraser, MD; Chief Editor: John L Brusch, MD, FACP  more...
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Treatment

Medical Care

Antimicrobial therapy

Prior to treatment of enterococcal infections, all suspected intravenous lines, intra-arterial catheters, and urinary catheters should be removed, if possible, and abscesses drained. Infections that do not require bactericidal therapy are usually treated with a single antibiotic directed toward enterococci; these infections include UTIs, most intra-abdominal infections, and uncomplicated wound infections. Some studies find that monotherapy is adequate treatment in many patients with enterococcal bacteremia without evidence of endocarditis. In clinical practice, combination therapy with a cell wall–active agent and a synergistic aminoglycoside should be considered for treating serious enterococcal infections in critically ill patients and in those with evidence of sepsis, as well as in patients with endocarditis, meningitis, osteomyelitis, or joint infections.

Ampicillin is the drug of choice for monotherapy of susceptible E faecalis infection. For most isolates, the MIC of ampicillin is 2- to 4-fold lower than that of penicillin. For rare strains that are resistant to ampicillin because of beta-lactamase production, ampicillin plus sulbactam may be used. Vancomycin should be used in patients with a penicillin allergy or infections with strains that have high-level penicillin resistance due to altered PBPs. Nitrofurantoin is effective in the treatment of enterococcal UTIs, including many caused by VRE strains. As more experience is gained with the use of linezolid, daptomycin, and tigecycline, these drugs may be used more commonly to treat VRE infections.

Combination therapy with a cell wall–active agent (eg, ampicillin, vancomycin) and an aminoglycoside (eg, gentamicin, streptomycin) has long been regarded as the standard of care for E faecalis native valve endocarditis. This combination results in synergistic bactericidal activity against susceptible enterococcal strains. At least 4 weeks of combination therapy is recommended. Six weeks of combination therapy is recommended in patients with symptoms that persisted for more than 3 months before starting therapy, in patients who relapsed after shorter courses of therapy, and in patients with prosthetic valves. In sensitive E faecalis native valve endocarditis, consideration should be given to limiting the aminoglycoside component to 2 weeks in order to avoid nephrotoxic, vestibular, and ototoxic events. However, such limitations are not justified in treating prosthetic valve infections or those that are complicated by large vegetations.

A recent study of ceftriaxone plus ampicillin in E faecalis valve endocarditis supported those of smaller earlier one. Gentamicin has always generated concern because of its significant rates of nephrotoxicity, ototoxicity, and vestibular toxicity, especially among older patients. For individuals at risk for these side effects, intravenous ampicillin 2 g every 4 hours plus intravenous ceftriaxone 2 g every 12 hours appears to provide a reasonable alternative. The combination has been shown to be effective in both gentamicin-resistant and gentamicin-sensitive isolates and in both native and prosthetic valve infections. This therapy is ineffective against E faecium. [26, 27]

It appears that combining various beta-lactam antibiotics with daptomycin may result in synergy against vancomycin-resistant E faecalis and E faecium. Ceftaroline and ampicillin administered orally are the most promising of the beta–lactams. [28] Combining various antibiotics with daptomycin may restore the effectiveness of daptomycin against enterococci that have become resistant to it. Again, ampicillin may be the most effective partner with daptomycin in this situation. [29]

When the MIC is unknown or greater than 0.25 mg/L, high-dose daptomycin (10 mg/kg) in the treatment of enterococcal endocarditis appears to reduce the development of daptomycin-resistant strains. In addition, this enhanced dose would deal with the relative resistance of enterococcal isolates that have been previously exposed to vancomycin. [30]

Daptomycin has recently been demonstrated to be well tolerated and effective in patients with VRE UTI. [31]

If vancomycin is used in the course of treatment for endocarditis, a 6-week rather than 4-week course of therapy is recommended. Combination therapy is also recommended to treat enterococcal meningitis, usually for at least 2-3 weeks. Intravenous linezolid or intravenous plus intraventricular quinupristin-dalfopristin have also been used to successfully treat meningitis.

The emergence of enterococcal strains with multidrug-resistant determinants has significantly complicated the management of enterococcal infections. Vancomycin should be used to treat infections with strains that exhibit high-level resistance to ampicillin. Test strains with high-level gentamicin resistance for high-level streptomycin resistance. For gentamicin-resistant strains, the only alternative is streptomycin, as tobramycin and amikacin are not active. Treatment options are limited for endocarditis caused by strains that exhibit high-level resistance to all aminoglycosides. For E faecalis infection, prolonged therapy with high doses of ampicillin plus imipenem-cilastatin or ampicillin plus ceftriaxone may be considered. [32] For Efaecium infection, either linezolid or daptomycin may be effective, and quinupristin-dalfopristin or tigecycline could be considered. Surgical approaches may be necessary (see Surgical Care).

For VRE infections, base the treatment on infection severity and in vitro susceptibility of the strain to other antibiotics. Uncomplicated UTIs have been treated successfully with nitrofurantoin. Isolates that remain relatively susceptible to penicillin or ampicillin (MICs of 0.5-2 mcg/mL) may be treated with high doses of these agents. Doxycycline, chloramphenicol, and rifampin in various combinations have been used to treat VRE infections, but the newer antibiotic choices are also now available. [33, 34]

The streptogramin combination antibiotic quinupristin-dalfopristin targets the bacterial 50S ribosome and inhibits protein synthesis. It is available intravenously for the treatment of E faecium infections but is not effective against E faecalis strains.

Linezolid, an oxazolidinone antibiotic, is available orally and intravenously and is used to treat infections caused by E faecium and E faecalis strains, including VRE. Linezolid may be particularly useful in patients who require oral or outpatient therapy (when intravenous therapy is undesirable), who are intolerant to glycopeptides, or who have impaired renal function. [35] Linezolid has been FDA-approved for use in infants and children. [36] Unfortunately, linezolid-resistant VRE isolates have already been reported. [37, 38]

Daptomycin, a lipopeptide antibiotic that works by altering the bacterial membrane function, is indicated for the treatment of vancomycin-susceptible E faecalis– complicated skin infections. It became available in 2003, and, although it has in vitro activity against all strains of enterococci, the data regarding its use in E faecium and VRE infections are still somewhat limited, although encouraging. [39] Daptomycin may be the only drug with bactericidal activity against enterococci when used as sole antibiotic therapy. [34] However, resistance in VRE isolates has been reported. [5]

Recent data indicate that daptomycin is associated with significantly better treatment outcomes, all-cause mortality, and microbiologic failure of VRE bacteremia than linezolid. [40]  

Recently, Arias and colleagues investigated the genetic basis for daptomycin resistance in enterococci. They found that resistance to daptomycin results from concomitant alterations in two genes encoding proteins that regulate the stress response to antimicrobial agents acting on the cell envelope and enzymes that are responsible for phospholipid metabolism in the cell membrane. [41] Daptomycin appears to provide optimal activity in serious enterococcal infections when administered at higher doses. [42] High-dose daptomycin (10 mg/kg/day) has been shown to be effective in treating penicillin-sensitive E faecalis left-sided endocarditis, many cases of which had failed previous regimens. [43] This strategy is not FDA-approved, may not prevent resistance from developing, and should be exercised only in consultation with expert advice.

Tigecycline, a glycylcycline antibiotic released in 2005, can be used to treat gram-positive, gram-negative, and anaerobic bacterial infections. It can be used to treat vancomycin-sensitive E faecalis infections, and, although it has in vitro activity against E faecium and VRE (including E casseliflavus and E gallinarum), as with daptomycin, clinical data are limited.

Teicoplanin is a glycopeptide that is used outside of the United States. It has demonstrated in vitro activity against E gallinarum and E casseliflavus, but not against the most common VanA, type VREF.

Telavancin is a novel lipoglycopeptide that is rapidly bactericidal against a broad spectrum of aerobic and anaerobic gram-positive pathogens, including many Enterococcus species. [44, 45] Telavancin was approved by the FDA on September 11, 2009, for the treatment of adult patients with complicated skin and skin structure infection due to numerous aerobic gram-positive organisms, including vancomycin-susceptible isolates of E faecalis. Although its activity against many vancomycin-resistant isolates of Enterococcus is good, especially against VanB strains of enterococci, it is currently not FDA-approved for the treatment of infections caused by vancomycin-resistant strains. Dalbavancin is a new lipoglycopeptide antibiotic that is structurally related to vancomycin and teicoplanin. It was approved by the FDA in May 2014 for gram-positive bacteria including Staphylococcus aureus (including methicillin-susceptible and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus [MRSA]), Streptococcus pyogenes, Streptococcus agalactiae, and Streptococcus anginosus group (including S anginosus, S intermedius, S constellatus). It also has activity against non-VRE enterococci, but is not yet approved for this indication. It has a very long half-life that allows IV administration to be given as a 2-dose, once weekly regimen.

In August 2014, the FDA approved oritavancin for acute bacterial skin and skin structure infections (ABSSSI). Oritavancin is a lipoglycopeptide antibiotic. Susceptible gram-positive isolates include S aureus (including methicillin-susceptible S aureus and MRSA methicillin-resistant S aureus [MRSA] isolates), S pyogenes, S agalactiae, S dysgalactiae, S anginosus group (S anginosus, S intermedius, S constellatus), and E faecalis (vancomycin-susceptible isolates only). It is administered as an IV infusion over 3 hr as a one-time single-dose of 1200 -mg. Results from the SOLO I and II trials showed a single- dose of oritavancin was noninferior to twice daily vancomycin for 7-10 days for treating ABSSSI. [46]

Tedizolid, a newly approved oxazolidinone antibiotic, is indicated for skin and skin structure infections caused by susceptible isolates of gram-positive bacteria. Susceptible microorganisms include S aureus (including MRSA and methicillin-susceptible [MSSA] isolates), S pyogenes, S agalactiae, S anginosus group (including S anginosus, S intermedius, and S constellatus), and E faecalis. Its action is mediated by binding to the 50S subunit of the bacterial ribosome, resulting in inhibition of protein synthesis. It can be taken by mouth or IV every day for 6 days. Approval for tedizolid was based on 2 clinical trials including more than 1300 participants that showed it to be noninferior to linezolid. [47, 48]

Table 1. Treatment Considerations for Enterococcal Infections. (Open Table in a new window)

  Critical Illness/Sepsis Endovascular Infection (eg, Infectious Endocarditis) Central Nervous System Infection Bone/Joint Infection Serious Organ Infection (eg, Intra-abdominal or Kidney) Uncomplicated Skin Infections Bladder Infections
Penicillin-Susceptible Enterococci Ampicillin 2 g IV q4h plus gentamicin 1 mg/kg IBW q8h



Penicillin 18-30 MU daily via continuous infusion or in divided doses plus gentamicin 1 mg/kg IBW q8h



Ampicillin 2 g IV q4h plus ceftriaxone 2 g IV q12h



[Ampicillin plus imipenem-cilastatin]



Ampicillin 2 g IV q4h for 4-6 weeks plus gentamicin 1 mg/kg IBW q8h for 2-6 weeks (or streptomycin 7.5 mg/kg IBW IV or IM]



Penicillin 18-30 MU daily via continuous infusion or in divided doses for 4-6 weeks plus gentamicin 1 mg/kg IBW q8h for 2-6 weeks [or streptomycin 7.5 mg/kg IBW IV or IM]



Ampicillin 2 gm IV q4h plus ceftriaxone 2 g IV q12h for 6 weeks



[Ampicillin plus imipenem-cilastatin for 6 weeks]



Ampicillin 2 g IV q4h plus gentamicin 1 mg/kg IBW for 2-3 weeks



Penicillin 18-30 MU daily via continuous infusion or in divided doses for 4-6 weeks plus gentamicin 1 mg/kg IBW q8h for 2-3 weeks



Ampicillin 2 g IV q4h plus ceftriaxone 2 g IV q12h for 2-3 weeks



[Ampicillin plus imipenem-cilastatin for 2-3 weeks]



Penicillin G 20-24 MU IV q24h in continuous dosing or divided q4h for 4-6 weeks



Ampicillin 12 g IV q24h continuously or in 6 divided doses for 4-6 weeks



(For both regimens above, synergistic aminoglycoside is optional)



Penicillin G 20-24 MU IV q24h in continuous dosing or divided q4h



Ampicillin 12 g IV q24h continuously or in 6 divided doses



(For both regimens above, synergistic aminoglycoside is optional)



Ampicillin 8 g IV daily in divided doses



Penicillin G 12 MU IV divided q4-6h



Amoxicillin (or IV ampicillin)



(Other options may include oral doxycycline, linezolid, chloramphenicol)



Penicillin-Resistant Enterococci or Patient Unable to Tolerate Beta-lactams Vancomycin 15 mg/kg q12h plus either gentamicin 1 mg/kg/8h IV or IM or streptomycin 7.5 mg/kg IV or IM every 12 hours Vancomycin 15 mg/kg q12h plus either gentamicin 1 mg/kg IV or IM q8h or streptomycin 7.5 mg/kg IV or IM q12h for 6 weeks Vancomycin 15 mg/kg q12h plus either gentamicin 1 mg/kg IV or IM q8h or streptomycin 7.5 mg/kg IV or IM q12h for 6 weeks Vancomycin 15 mg/kg IV q12h for 4-6 weeks



(Addition of aminoglycoside is optional)



Vancomycin 15 mg/kg IV q12h



(Addition of aminoglycoside is optional)



Vancomycin 15 mg/kg IV q12h



(Addition of aminoglycoside is optional)



Nitrofurantoin



Doxycycline



Linezolid



Chloramphenicol



VRE Linezolid 600 mg IV or PO q12h



Daptomycin 10-12 mg/kg once daily



Linezolid 600 mg IV or PO q12h for a minimum of 6 weeks



Daptomycin 10-12 mg/kg once daily for minimum of 6 weeks



Linezolid 600 mg IV or PO q12h for 2-3 weeks Linezolid 600 mg IV or PO q12h for 4-6 weeks



Daptomycin 6 mg/kg once daily for 4-6 weeks



Linezolid 600 mg IV or PO q12h



Daptomycin 6 mg/kg once daily



Linezolid 600 mg IV or PO q12h



Daptomycin 4-6 mg/kg once daily



Nitrofurantoin



Doxycycline



Linezolid



Daptomycin



Chloramphenicol



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Surgical Care

Surgery may be indicated for the treatment of some enterococcal infections.

In patients with enterococcal endocarditis, valve-replacement surgery may be indicated for management of refractory congestive heart failure, failure of medical therapy to clear bacteremia, valve ring abscess, or development of septic emboli after initiation of therapy.

For enterococcal intra-abdominal infections, surgery may be indicated for cholecystitis or intra-abdominal abscess, among other conditions.

For enterococcal catheter-associated infections, removal of the line may be indicated.

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Consultations

Consultation with an infectious diseases specialist should be considered for all patients with serious infections caused by Enterococcus species, particularly when multiresistant strains are isolated.

Consult with hospital infection control policy experts when treating patients with colonization or infection with VRE.

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Diet

In patients who are persistently colonized with VRE, attempts are occasionally made to eradicate the bacteria. Enteral antibiotics such as bacitracin rarely achieve long-term success. In a small recent study, probiotic therapy (Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG in yogurt) was used to successfully clear VRE colonization and infection in renal patients. [49]

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