Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) are a type of bacteria called
enterococci that have developed resistance to many
antibiotics, especially vancomycin. Enterococci
bacteria live in our intestines and on our skin, usually without causing
The symptoms of encephalitis are usually sudden and severe.
Drowsiness, lethargy, and possibly coma
Personality changes, irritability, or emotional outbursts
Weakness in one or more areas of the body
Bulging soft spots in infants
Seek medical attention immediately if you or someone else has any of these symptoms.
Enterococci bacteria become a problem when they cause
infection. These infections can occur anywhere in the body. Some common sites
include the intestines, the urinary tract, and wounds. For some people,
especially those who are weak or ill, these infections can become serious.
Vancomycin-resistant enterococci infections are treated with
antibiotics, which are the types of medicines normally used to kill bacteria.
VRE infections are more difficult to treat than other infections with
enterococci, because fewer antibiotics are effective against the
What causes a VRE infection?
VRE, like many bacteria, can be spread from one
person to another through casual contact or through contaminated objects. Most
often, VRE is spread from the hands of a doctor to a patient in a hospital or
other health care setting. VRE is not usually spread through the air like the
common cold or flu virus unless you have VRE
pneumonia and are coughing, which is rare.
If you are healthy, your chances of getting VRE are very low. Even if you
have been exposed to VRE, or have VRE in your body, you are not likely to get
an infection. VRE infections typically only occur among people who have
immune systems, such as people with long-term
illnesses or people who have had major surgery or other medical procedures and
have been treated with multiple antibiotics.
Experts do not know
exactly why some people become infected with VRE and others do not. But they do
know that VRE infections are more likely to develop when antibiotics such as
vancomycin are used often. Given enough time, bacteria can change
so that these antibiotics no longer work well. This is why VRE and other
antibiotic-resistant bacteria are sometimes called "super bugs."
What are the symptoms?
of a VRE infection depend on where the infection is. If VRE is causing a wound
infection, that area of your skin may be red or tender. If you have a
urinary tract infection, you may have back pain, a
burning sensation when you urinate, or a need to urinate more often than usual.
Some people with VRE infections have diarrhea, feel weak and sick, or have
fever and chills.
How is VRE diagnosed?
If your doctor suspects that you are infected
with VRE, he or she will send a sample of your infected wound, blood, urine, or
stool to a lab. The lab will grow the bacteria and then test to see which kinds
of antibiotics kill the bacteria. This test may take several days.