Enterobacters are part of the normal intestinal flora. Moreover, they also occur in almost all habitats. The germs are spread everywhere and have been detected in stool and / or faeces of humans and animals, in plants, in water, in insects and in foods such as dairy products.
Some species of Enterobacters, eg Enterobacter aerogenes, Enterobacter cloacae, Enterobacter agglomerans, Enterobacter gergoviae and previously Enterobacter sakazakii (now Chronobacter spp.), can cause infections in humans. The pathogens are facultatively pathogenic, ie they must not cause a disease in every case. Persons whose immune system is weakened, who suffer from a serious pre-existing condition, have been treated surgically or belong to another sensitive group of persons, are particularly at risk.
Cause of hospital infections
Enterobacter species were identified during the past years as a significant cause for hospital infections (nosocomial infections). Individual disease outbreaks could be attributed to contaminated intravenous liquids, blood products, distilled water, contaminated endoscopes, stethoscopes and the hands of nursing staff. The most frequent cause is the species Enterobacter aerogenes and Enterobacter cloacae.
Enterobacters can cause a broad range of diseases. Infections with these germs have resulted, inter alia, in blood poisonings (sepsis), inflammations of the lower respiratory tract, inflammations of skin and tissue (parenchymae) of organs, infections of the urinary tract, inflammations of the endocardium (endocarditis) or eye inflammations.
The bacteria of the genus Enterobacter belong to the family of Enterobacteriacae. This is a group of gram-negative, facultatively anaerobic, rod-like bacteria.