Structure and Physiology
Enterococcus faecium is a Gram-positive, coccal shaped, facultative anaerobic bacterium that can occur in pairs or chains. Its natural habitat includes the gastrointestinal tract, oral cavity, and vaginal tract of a wide variety of animals. The colonies that are produced appear wet and have an average size of 1-2 mm. E. faecium can survive for long periods of time inside hospital, sewage, and soil. It has the ability to proliferate in basic, acidic, isotonic, or hypertonic environments with temperatures ranging from 10 to 45 degrees Celsius.
Transmission and Disease
E. faecium is a human pathogen that causes urinary tract infections, endocarditis, surgical wound infections, and nosocomial bacteremia. Nosocomial infections occur in a hospital setting during the treatment of a prior illness. E. faecium contains a number of virulence factors that increase its degree of pathogenicity. Enterococcal surface proteins (Esp) are used by the microbe to aggregate and form biofilms. Aggregation substance (AS) allows the microbe to facilitate the transfer of genetic material between cells by targeting them. A protein called cytosolin is found within the microbe's cytosol and is responsible for the lysis of erythrocytes.
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