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Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci (VRE)

Disease Information

Enterococcus species are bacteria carried in the intestines of healthy individuals; however, they can also result in infection. Enterococcus faecium and faecalis are the most common species associated with human infection. Resistance to the antibiotic vancomycin makes these bacteria more difficult to treat.

Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE) can cause healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) when the body’s normal barriers to infection are compromised by breathing tubes, blood and urine catheters, and wounds. Infections of the urinary tract and bloodstream are the most common. Patients who have received chemotherapy that damages their bowel walls are also at risk for serious bloodstream infections. VRE can increase antibiotic needs, lengthen hospital stays, and contribute to patient complications, including death.

E. faecium and E. faecalis accounted for 4.1% and 6.8% of all healthcare-associated infections reported to the National Healthcare Safety Network during 2009–2010. E. faecium and E. faecalis were isolated most commonly in central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) (7.0% and 8.8%), followed by catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) (3.1% and 7.2%), surgical site infections (SSI) (2.5% and 5.9%), and rarely in ventilator-associated pneumoniae (VAP) (0.3% and 0.5%).

VRE can be transmitted by hands, surfaces, and fomites (e.g., medical equipment). Spread of VRE infection can be prevented by hand washing and effective healthcare environmental cleaning.

Disease Reporting

VRE are not currently reportable in Oregon.

See Also

CDC Factsheet