Enterococcus faecalis is a gram-positive, commensal bacterium commonly found in the gastrointestinal tracts of humans and other mammals. It can be found in the food industries in meat, and can cause intestinal overgrowth in mice and other research models. Like other, similar species, E. faecalis can cause life-threatening infections in humans, especially in hospital environments, where the naturally high levels of antibiotic resistance found in E. faecalis contribute to its pathogenicity.
Enterococci are most commonly transmitted due to poor hygiene in humans and poor vivarium management in research models. Since it is naturally present in the gastrointestinal tract, E. faecalis is found in fecal matter. Improper cleaning of items containing fecal matter including bedding, caging and enrichment materials can increase the risk of bacterial transmission.
E. faecalis has also been frequently found in re-infected root canal-treated teeth. Re-infected root canal-treated teeth are about nine times more likely to harbor E. faecalis than cases of primary infections.
In mice, Enterococci can cause overgrowth in the intestinal tract as well as maternal disorders in pregnant mice. In humans, Enterococci cause a range of illnesses, mostly among patients receiving healthcare, but include bloodstream infections, surgical site infections, and urinary tract infections. Symptoms may include:
- painful urination
- stomach cramping