Information on VRE

It seems there have been some calls about VRE – so here is some information from the CDC website about the VRE situation. This takes a long time to go away!!! He has had it since oh Dec. 25 2008 and can take months and months before it comes up negative on a culture. He has been treated for it in the past, and I will know this afternoon if they will continue to treat it or if this is something that needs to take care of itself.

What is VRE (vancomycin-resistant enterococci)?

Enterococci are bacteria that are normally present in the human intestines and in the female genital tract and are often found in the environment. These bacteria can sometimes cause infections. Vancomycin is an antibiotic that is often used to treat infections caused by enterococci. In some cases, enterococci have become resistant to vancomycin and are called vancomycin-resistant enterococci or VRE. Most VRE infections occur in people in hospitals.

What types of infections does VRE cause?

VRE can live in the human intestines and female genital tract without causing disease (often called colonization). However, sometimes, it can be the cause infections of the urinary tract, the bloodstream or of wounds.

Are certain people at risk of getting VRE?

The following persons are at an increased risk becoming infected with VRE:

  • People who have been previously treated with the antibiotic vancomycin or other antibiotics for long periods of time.
  • People who are hospitalized, particularly when they receive antibiotic treatment for long periods of time
  • People with weakened immune systems such as patients in Intensive Care Units, or in cancer or transplant wards
  • People who have undergone surgical procedures such as abdominal or chest surgery
  • People with medical devices that stay in for some time such as urinary catheters or central intravenous (IV) catheters.
  • People who are colonized with VRE

How common is VRE?

Information collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during 2006 and 2007 showed that enterococci caused about 1 of every 8 infections in hospitals and only about 30% of these are VRE. VRE can be more common in certain groups of people such as those with weakened immune systems.

What is the treatment for VRE?

People who are colonized (bacteria are present, but have no symptoms of an infection) with VRE do not usually need treatment. Most VRE infections can be treated with antibiotics other than vancomycin. Laboratory testing of the VRE can determine which antibiotics will work. For people who get VRE infections in their bladder and have urinary catheters, removal of the catheter when it is no longer needed can also help get rid of the infection.

How is VRE spread?

VRE is often passed from person to person by the hands of caregivers. VRE can get onto a caregiver’s hands after they have contact with other people with VRE or after contact with contaminated surfaces. VRE can also be spread directly to people after they touch surfaces that are contaminated with VRE. VRE is not usually spread through the air by coughing or sneezing.

How can I prevent the spread of VRE?

If you or someone in your household has VRE, the following are some things you can do to prevent the spread of VRE:

  • Keep your hands clean. Always wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom and before preparing food. Clean your hands after contact with persons who have VRE. Wash with soap and water (particularly when visibly soiled) or use alcohol-based hand rubs.
  • Frequently clean areas of your home such as your bathroom that may become contaminated with VRE.
  • Wear gloves if you may come in contact with body fluids that may contain VRE, such as stool or bandages from infected wounds. Always wash your hands after removing gloves.
  • If you have VRE, be sure to tell healthcare providers caring for you that you have VRE so that they are aware of your infection. Healthcare facilities use special precautions to help prevent the spread of VRE to others.

What should I do if I think I have VRE?

Talk with your healthcare provider if you think you have VRE.


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