Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci (VRE)

What is VRE?

VRE stands for vancomycin-resistant enterococci. Enterococci are bacteria that normally live in our bowel. Vancomycin is a commonly used antibiotic used to treat a number of types of bacterial infections, including those caused by enterococci. Therefore, VRE is enterococci bacteria that has become resistant to antibiotics. Most cases of VRE live on individuals without causing illness. Having a serious VRE infection is unusual, but it can happen. When enterococci are resistant to vancomycin, it means that there are fewer treatment options. Therefore, we work hard to prevent the spread of VRE to patients.

Where does VRE hang out?

Although VRE lives in our bowel, it can survive outside our body for many hours on all kinds of surfaces, like bedrails, call bells, bedside tables, and door handles. Our hands carry it from one item and one person, to another. The more people who have VRE, the more likely it is that items in the environment will be contaminated with VRE. That is why hand hygiene and environmental and equipment cleaning are so very important.

Prevention and Control:

  • All patients with VRE are provided with a single room with dedicated toileting facilities.
  • Staff and visitors are to wear a gown & gloves (no mask) when providing care or are in close contact with the patient/patient environment. Discard before leaving the room.
  • Dedicate patient equipment (if this is not possible, clean and disinfect shared equipment after patient use). Thoroughly clean & disinfect all touch surfaces and equipment within the patient environment.
  • Inform receiving departments/caregivers that Contact Precautions are required.  Ensure that Transfer and Discharge Swabs are completed as per policy.
  • Housekeepers spend extra time cleaning the environment and follow stringent protocols. VRE is tenacious and it is killed by regular hospital disinfectants but is hardy so we have to scrub to destroy it with enhanced cleaning protocols.

Good hand hygiene is the best protection against spreading VRE!