Vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE)
Vancomycin is a medicine used to treat infections caused by the enterococcus germ. The germ can change so that it can no longer be killed by vancomycin, then it becomes VRE.
People who get VRE:
- Are sick and cannot fight off germs as well as healthy people
- Have taken many medicines that kill germs
- Are in the hospital a long time
VRE is found in stool, blood, urine, wounds, and other body fluids.
People may be colonized or infected with VRE.
- Colonized means they have the germ, but it is not making them sick.
- Infected means they have the germ, and it is making them sick.
The only way to check for VRE is with a test of the stool or swabbing the anus.
- Results with be ready in two to three days.
How is VRE treated?
- Those sick with VRE may be treated with drugs called antibiotics.
- Those colonized with VRE, may not have to do anything.
- Sometimes people get rid of VRE on their own as their bodies heal.
- This may take a few months.
How is VRE spread?
VRE is spread from person to person or by touching a surface touched by someone with VRE.
- The VRE germ can survive on hard surfaces for five to seven days and on hands for hours.
- It is easy to stop the spread of VRE with good cleaning and by washing your hands.
- The germ does not travel through air.
Handwashing at home
- Those with VRE and their families must wash their hands well and often.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 15 seconds (or as long as it takes to sing the “happy birthday” song twice):
- When visibly dirty
- After touching soiled items
- After using the bathroom
- Before preparing and eating food
- If you do not have soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that has at least 60 percent alcohol to clean your hands.
Eating at home
- People with VRE should not share dishes and silverware with someone else.
- It is okay to wash dishes in the dishwasher or in hot, soapy water.
Cleaning at home
- A Lysol-type product should be used to clean surfaces in your home often and when your body fluids get on them.
- Clothes can be washed with the rest of the family laundry, but clothing with your body fluids on them should be washed by itself.
- Put all dressings and bandages into plastic bags, tie securely, and throw away with the rest of the garbage.
Living at home
- Intimate contact is OK because healthy people have a low chance of getting VRE.
- It is not know if VRE is spread through sexual contact.