Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE)

  • Enterococci are bacteria that are normally present in the human intestine, the urinary tract, and the environment.
  • Vancomycin resistant enterococci are strains of the bacteria that are resistant to the antibiotic Vancomycin
  • You can have VRE in your body and not be sick. This is called being colonized with the bacteria.
  • A person is considered to be infected with VRE when they are showing symptoms

Signs and Symptoms

A person who is infected with VRE may have the following symptoms:

  • Infection of the urinary tract
  • Bloodstream infection


  • Often, VRE spreads within healthcare facilities.
  • It can spread from patient to patient when bacteria are carried on the hands of healthcare workers and occasionally through contact with contaminated equipment or other surfaces.
  • VRE infections occur most commonly in healthcare settings among patients with weakened immune systems, those who have been previously treated with vancomycin or other antibiotics for long periods of time, those who have undergone surgical procedures, and those with medical devices such as urinary catheters


  • People who are colonized (bacteria are present, but they have no symptoms of an infection) with VRE do not usually need treatment.
  • Most VRE infections can be treated successfully with antibiotics other than vancomycin


  • Proper hand hygiene is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of acquiring an infection, including VRE.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom, before preparing food or after contact with a person who has VRE.
  • Wash with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand rubs. It is important to remember that VRE can survive for weeks on surfaces and objects so you should regularly clean areas such as bathrooms and frequently touched surfaces (e.g. door handles).