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Diseases > Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci (VRE)

Enterococci are a family of bacteria often found in the environment. These bacteria are normally present in the human intestines and in the female genital tract also, and can cause infections. Vancomycin is an antibiotic used for treating infections caused by enterococci. However, sometimes, enterococci become resistant to this drug and thus are called vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE).

VRE can live in female genital tract and human intestines without causing any troubles. However, sometimes, it can be the cause of urinary track infections, wound infections and blood stream infections.

The most likely place to get VRE infection is hospital. One may be exposed to VRE by eating contaminated food or by coming in contact with contaminated object or person.

VRE had not been reported in U.S. hospitals until 1989. According to a CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) report, VRE in US hospitals had shot up from 0.3 percent of all enterococci in 1989 to 7.9 percent in 1993.  In some hospitals, the percentage was nearly 14 percent.  By the mid-1990's, the mortality rate for patients with VRE had climbed to more that 40 percent. During 2004, VRE caused 1 of every 3 infections in hospital intensive care units, CDC report says.


Symptoms of a VRE infection are often hard to detect. Symptoms also vary depending on where the infection is. If one has a urinary tract infection, the possible symptoms for VRE infection are a burning sensation while urinating, or a tendency to urinate more often than usual, or a back pain. If VRE causes a wound infection, that area of skin can be red or tender. Some other symptoms are weakness, diarrhea, fever and chills.

Who are at risk?

Persons who are hospitalized, especially when they receive antibiotic treatment for long periods of time, are susceptible to VRE infection. VRE poses a significant threat to immunocompromised patients, particularly those undergoing chemotherapy as they may develop bloodstream infections from these bacteria. Persons with medical devices that stay in for some time (such as urinary catheters) are also susceptible to VRE infection.

VRE can develop from hospital equipment, bedrails and doorknobs.  It may be passed to others by direct contact with stool, urine or blood containing VRE. VRE can also be spread indirectly via the hands of healthcare providers or on contaminated environmental surfaces.  Anybody who is used to be in hospitals is at risk of carrying VRE.

Free initial consultation - If you or a loved one has suffered from a hospital-borne bacterial infection, please fill out and submit the form at the right or contact us today at 1-800-780-2686

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Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci (VRE)
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