What is a VRE Infection?

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  • Written By: Lucinda Reynolds
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 01 September 2015
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VRE stands for vancomycin-resistant enterococci. A VRE infection occurs when Enterococcus bacteria develop a resistance to the antibiotic that normally kills it. Vancomycin has been used for many years to keep specific bacteria under control. Recently, strains of this bacteria have become resistant to this antibiotic, prompting medical professionals to find other medications to help kill it.

Enterococci are bacteria that are normally present in the mouth, intestines, and the female genital area. Under normal circumstances, this type of bacteria is nothing to worry about. Sometimes, however, it will cause an infection elsewhere in the body. When this happens, an individual can develop fever, chills, or a wound infection.

Those who are most susceptible to a VRE infection are individuals who have been treated with vancomycin for a long period of time. Those who have been hospitalized or who live in a long-term health care facility are at a higher risk for developing such an infection. Anyone with a weakened immune system can be more susceptible as well.


This type of infection is usually spread by direct contact with contaminated surfaces, such as tables or doorknobs. A health care worker can spread the bacteria to other individuals in the same health care facility if proper precautions are not taken. It is recommended that any individual in such a facility who has been diagnosed with VRE be placed in a private room. Workers caring for the individual should wear gloves and a protective gown to prevent spreading the infection.

The best way to prevent the bacteria that causes a VRE infection is proper hand washing. The hands should be washed after caring for an individual with the bacterial infection. Soap and water should be used and all surfaces of the hands should be scrubbed thoroughly. The faucet should be turned off with a paper towel to prevent re-contamination.

Treatment for VRE may involve getting intravenous antibiotics. A medical professional may need to prescribe several antibiotics to help clear up the infection completely. Blood samples and urine samples may be taken to determine exactly what type of antibiotic is needed to get rid of the infection.

Individuals who have a weak immune system should not care for or visit a person who is infected with the bacteria. Babies and young children should not come into contact with someone with VRE either. The infection can be easily spread, and it can make those who have a poor immune system very ill.


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Post 4

@Anon I would say bleach. Plus high heat, Like steaming.

Post 3

There is a lady that lives in my building that has contracted VRE from our local hospital. Her daughter called me today asking me how can she disinfect their apartment properly?

What do you think is the best method for killing all of the germs?

Post 2

@flowerchild -- No, MRSA is a different strain of bacteria, although they both normally reside in our bodies and do us no harm.

When I was training for volunteer work in the hospital, we had a little education about this.

They are transmitted the same way generally.

If you are working with someone who has one of these infections you must take precautions like gloves, mask, etc and be sure to sterilize everything once you are done with them.

My daughter's friend actually had VRE on her leg and it kept spreading.

The doctors finally found an antibiotic that would work. In the meantime, she had to use separate linens and bedsheets, even utensils as a precaution!

Post 1

Is this type of infection related to a MRSA infection? My friend was in the hospital and came down with that. It actually sounds really similar. Scary to think that some of our antibiotics are not working any more.

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