Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus (VRE)

Enterococci are bacteria that are naturally present in the intestinal tract of all people. Vancomycin is an antibiotic to which some strains of enterococci have become resistant. These resistant strains are referred to as VRE.

In general, enterococci are not very harmful or virulent. This applies to both antibiotic-resistant as well as nonresistant or sensitive strains. However, when VRE infects the urinary tract, surgical wounds or the bloodstream of hospitalized patients, it may be difficult to treat and, occasionally, may be life threatening. New antibiotics to treat VRE are under development.

VRE is usually spread by direct contact with hands, environmental surfaces or medical equipment that has been contaminated by the feces of an infected person.