Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci

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Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) facts

  • Enterococci are bacteria that commonly live in the bowel and are usually resistant to many antibiotics. VRE are enterococci that have become resistant to the antibiotic vancomycin.
  • There are only a few antibiotics that are able to treat VRE infections. However, newer antibiotics are being developed.
  • People can be colonized with VRE, meaning that the bacteria are living harmlessly in the body.
  • VRE causes infection when it invades the bloodstream or spreads locally. It can also be introduced directly into a wound.
  • Infection is more likely in people with chronic diseases like diabetes or patients who have recently received antibiotics. It is also more common in patients with indwelling devices like intravenous lines or urinary catheters and those with compromised immune systems.
  • VRE can cause many types of infections (for example, bloodstream infection [sepsis], urinary infection, abscesses, wound infections, pneumonia, heart infections [endocarditis], or meningitis).
  • To avoid spreading VRE from person to person, it is important to wash or decontaminate hands frequently, including before and after touching the patient or his/her environment. In the hospital, staff will also wear gowns and gloves when caring for a person with VRE.
  • The risk of VRE infection can be reduced by minimizing the use of indwelling devices such as intravenous lines and urinary catheters. The risk is also reduced by eliminating inappropriate use of antibiotics.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/11/2015

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Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci & Antibiotic Resistance

In fact, taking antibiotics when they are not really necessary will not speed your recovery and can even contribute to a problem known as antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance refers to the capacity of many bacteria to become resistant to a particular antibiotic so that it is no longer effective against these bacteria.