Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci

  • Medical Author:
    Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP

    Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University.

  • Medical Author: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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What is the prognosis of a vancomycin-resistant enterococcal (VRE) infection?

VRE infections can be cured in most patients, and the outcome is often more dependent on the underlying disease than on the infecting organism. The duration of treatment depends on the site of infection. For example, heart-valve infections may require six weeks of antibiotic therapy. Although the heart valve or other infected site infection is cured of VRE infection, many patients may be still colonized with the organism on mucosal surfaces.

What are the complications of VRE infections?

The complications most often seen with VRE infections are sepsis, endocarditis, urinary tract infections, meningitis, and severe wound infections. Early appropriate antibiotic treatment can reduce the severity of these complications; if any complications develop, an infectious-disease consultant is recommended.

Is it possible to prevent vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) infections?

The best way to prevent infection is to prevent transmission. This means that hospitals and care facilities must pay meticulous attention to infection-control guidelines to reduce the spread of VRE from patient to patient. Individuals can reduce their risk by washing hands after using the bathroom and before and after touching the mouth or nose. Minimizing the use of intravenous catheters, especially central lines, reduces the risk of VRE sepsis. Similarly, the use of urinary catheters should be minimized and catheters should be removed promptly when no longer needed. Finally, antibiotics should be used only for appropriate indications. Antibiotics are ineffective against viruses and the common cold. There is no vaccine available against VRE.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/11/2015

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