Enterococcus is a bacteria that lives in the bowel and helps to digest food. These bacteria can sometimes cause infections. Vancomycin is an antibiotic that is used to treat some infections caused by enterococci. In some instances, enterococci have become resistant to this drug and thus are called vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE).
Some people carry VRE on their bodies and it may never cause any problems or require any treatment. If an individual develops an infection with VRE, there are antibiotics available to treat the infection. People with VRE in the bowel and who have no signs and symptoms of an infection do not need to be treated. However, if there are signs and symptoms of an infection, the treatment may include many other antibiotics for a prolonged period of time. VRE causes infection when it is found outside of the bowel and in other body sites. Possible infections could be in blood, wound or urinary tract like the bladder.
VRE is commonly spread by direct contact with an infected person, usually through the hands. It can also be spread through indirect contact with contaminated environmental surfaces, or contaminated equipment.
Frequent hand hygiene helps prevent the spread of VRE. It is also important to clean patient rooms and equipment frequently and as needed.