Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci (VRE) (cont.)

What should I do if I think I have VRE?

Talk with your healthcare provider and get medical care.

If a patient in a facility is colonized or infected with VRE, what do their visitors or family members need to know?

In general, healthy people are at low risk of getting infected with VRE. Therefore, casual contact, such as kissing, hugging, and touching, is generally safe. Visitors should wash their hands before leaving an infected person's room. Also, wear disposable gloves if you anticipate contact with body fluids. If excessive contact with body fluids is expected, wear a gown. It is also acceptable for infants and children to have casual contact with these patients.

What precautions should caregivers take when tending to infected persons in their homes?

Outside of healthcare settings, there is little risk of becoming infected with VRE. In the home, the following precautions should be taken:

  • Caregivers should wash their hands with soap and water after physical contact with the infected or colonized person, and before leaving the home.

  • Towels used for drying hands after contact should be used only once.

  • Disposable gloves should be worn if contact with body fluids is expected, and hands should be washed after removing the gloves.

  • Linens should be changed and washed on a routine basis, and if they are soiled.

  • The patient's environment should be cleaned routinely, and when soiled with body fluids.

  • Notify doctors and other healthcare personnel, who provide care for patients, if an individual is colonized or infected with a multidrug-resistant organism.

Success stories are encouraging

An Arkansas hospital in 1998 created a program to wipe out VRE by using strict patient containment procedures and thoroughly educating its employees. Among the most effective precautions is handwashing. Though some staff complained that the program was overly complicated and labor intensive, rates of VRE infection dramatically declined.

According to CDC, in late 1996, VRE was first detected in a regional coalition of healthcare facilities -- state and local health departments in Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Within six months, VRE had spread to nearly half of the healthcare facilities in the region. A VRE Task Force began a mitigation program that combined detecting VRE-colonized or -infected patients, using infection-control measures and appropriate courses of antibiotics. In two years, VRE was significantly reduced throughout the region -- including a marked reduction in long-term care facilities and elimination in all acute-care facilities.


National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health

Last Editorial Review: 3/9/2009 8:28:57 PM

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