Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE)

Enterococci are bacteria (germs) that are normally present in the human intestines and in the female genital tract, and are often found in the environment, like in soil and water. These bacteria can cause infections

Who is at risk?

Those most likely to be infected include:

  • people who have been previously treated with antibiotics, including vancomycin, for long periods of time
  • people who are hospitalized, have undergone surgical procedures, or have medical devices inserted in their bodies (such as catheters)
  • people with weakened immune systems, such as patients in intensive care units, or in cancer or transplant wards

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How is it spread?

VRE can spread from one person to another through contact with contaminated surfaces or equipment or through person to person spread, often via contaminated hands. It is not spread through the air by coughing or sneezing.

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How can you avoid getting an infection?

If you or someone in your household has VRE, you can protect yourself by:

  • keeping your hands clean to avoid getting sick and spreading germs that can cause infections
    • patients and their caregivers should wash their hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, particularly:
      • after using the bathroom
      • before and after handling medical devices or caring for wounds
      • before preparing food
  • frequently cleaning areas of the home, such as bathrooms, that may become contaminated with VRE
  • wearing gloves if hands may come in contact with body fluids that may contain VRE, such as stool (poop) or bandages from infected wounds
    • Always wash your hands after removing gloves.
  • informing healthcare providers if you or someone you care for has VRE so that appropriate precautions can be taken to prevent spread