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Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci (VRE) Topics

Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci (VRE) - Overview

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How are VRE infections treated?

If you get a serious infection with VRE, you may be isolated in a private hospital room to reduce the chances of spreading the bacteria to others. When your doctors and nurses are caring for you, they may use extra precautions such as wearing gloves and gowns.

VRE infections may be difficult to cure because the bacteria do not respond to many antibiotics. If you have an infection, your doctor will order antibiotics that may be given by mouth or into a vein through an IV (intravenously). Sometimes more than one antibiotic is prescribed to help stop the infection. Part of your treatment may include sending samples of your blood, urine, or stool to a lab to see if you still have VRE in your body.

Some people get rid of VRE infections on their own as their bodies get stronger. This can take a few months or even longer. Other times, an infection will go away and then come back. Sometimes the infection will go away, but the bacteria will remain without causing infection. This is called colonization.

How can you prevent VRE infections?

As more antibiotic-resistant bacteria develop and more cases of VRE infections are documented, hospitals and other health care facilities are taking extra care to practice infection control, which includes frequent hand-washing and isolation of patients infected with VRE.

Even though most healthy people are not at risk for becoming infected or colonized with VRE, you can take steps to prevent getting a VRE infection.

  • Practice good hygiene.
    • Keep your hands clean by washing them thoroughly with soap and clean, running water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Hand-washing is the best way to avoid infection of any kind.
    • Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage and avoid contact with other people's wounds or bandages.
    • Do not share personal items such as towels or razors.
    • Keep your environment clean by wiping all frequently touched surfaces (such as countertops, doorknobs, and light switches) with a disinfectant, especially if someone in the house has a VRE infection.
  • Be smart about using antibiotics. Know that antibiotics can help treat bacterial infections, but they cannot cure viral infections. Always ask your doctor if antibiotics are the best treatment. And avoid pressuring your doctor into prescribing antibiotics when he or she thinks they won't help you get better.
  • Always take all your antibiotic medicine as prescribed by your doctor. If you use only part of the medicine, it may not cure your infection. Also, it may cause antibiotic-resistant bacteria to develop.
  • Do not save any antibiotics, and do not use antibiotics that were prescribed for someone else or for a different problem.
  • If you are in the hospital, remind doctors and nurses to wash their hands before they touch you.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 10, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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