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Risk factors for enterococcal infection and colonization by vancomycin-resistant enterococci in critically ill patients

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Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci (VRE) are important causes of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) infections. Our goal was to identify the prevalence and risk factors for VRE colonization upon ICU admission and during ICU stay, as well as, their impact in enterococcal infection including vancomycin-susceptible cases (VSE).


A prospective study regarding patients admitted in ICU (n = 497) was conducted during a 24-month period. Rectal swabs were collected upon admission and during hospitalization and inoculated onto selective medium. Enterococci were phenotypically characterized. van genes were investigated by PCR and clones were identified by Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis and Multilocus Sequence Typing. Epidemiologic data were collected from the ICU database.


Risk factors for VRE carriage upon ICU admission (71/497) were: duration of previous hospitalization, glycopeptide administration, chronic heart failure, malignancy, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, and previous enterococcal infection (VRE and/or VSE). Risk factors for VRE colonization during ICU stay (36/250) were: quinolone administration, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic renal failure, and number of VRE-positive patients in nearby beds. Risk factors for enterococcal infection during ICU stay (15/284), including VRE and VSE cases, were: administration of third- or fourth-generation cephalosporins, cortisone use before ICU admission and VRE colonization, whereas, enteral nutrition was a protective factor.


Previous VRE colonization and antibiotic usage are essential parameters for enterococcal infection (by VRE or VSE) during ICU stay. Previous enterococcal infection, co-morbidities and antibiotic usage are associated with VRE colonization upon ICU admission, whereas, patient to patient transmission, co-morbidities and antibiotic usage constitute risk factors for VRE colonization during ICU hospitalization.

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This research was supported by funding of the Department of Microbiology, School of Medicine, University of Patras, Greece.

Conflict of interest

All authors report no conflicts of interest relevant to this article.

Ethical approval

The study was approved by the University Hospital Ethics Committee that waived the need for informed consent (HEC No: 571).

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Correspondence to I. Spiliopoulou.

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Papadimitriou-Olivgeris, M., Drougka, E., Fligou, F. et al. Risk factors for enterococcal infection and colonization by vancomycin-resistant enterococci in critically ill patients. Infection 42, 1013–1022 (2014).

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