What is Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE)?
Enterococci are germs that live in the gastrointestinal tract (bowels) of most individuals and generally do not cause harm (this is termed “colonization”). Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) are strains of enterococci that are resistant to the antibiotic vancomycin. If a person has an infection caused by VRE, such as a urinary tract infection or blood infection, it may be more difficult to treat.
How is VRE spread?
VRE is spread from one person to another by contact, usually on the hands of caregivers. VRE can be present on the caregiver’s hands either from touching contaminated material excreted by an infected person or from touching articles soiled by faeces. VRE can survive well on hands and can survive for weeks on inanimate objects such as toilet seats, taps, door handles, bedrails, furniture and bedpans. VRE is easy to kill with the proper use of disinfectants and good hand hygiene.
What is bacteraemia?
Bacteraemia is the presence of bacteria in the bloodstream and is referred to as a bloodstream infection.
What is a case of VRE bacteraemia?
A case is a patient identified with laboratory confirmed bloodstream infection with Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE-Bacteraemia). A blood stream infection is a single positive blood culture for VRE.
What are the risk factors for VRE?
Risk factors for VRE include severity of underlying illness, presence of invasive devices, prior colonization with VRE, antibiotic use and length of hospital stay.
What special precautions are required for VRE?
It is important that special precautions are taken to stop VRE from spreading to other patients in the hospital. These precautions include:
- Single room accommodation (the door can remain open)
- A long-sleeved gown and gloves must be worn by everyone who cares for you
- A sign may be placed on your door to remind others who enter your room about the special precautions
- The room and the equipment used in the room will be cleaned and disinfected regularly
- Everyone who leaves your room must clean their hands well
- You must wash your hands before you leave your room
What about Family/Visitors?
Your family and visitors should not assist other patients with their personal care as this may cause the germ to spread. They may be required to wear a long-sleeved gown and gloves while in your room. Before leaving your room, visitors must remove the gloves and gown and dispose of them in the garbage container and the linen hamper located in your room. Then they must clean their hands.
Good Hand Hygiene Practices
Remind all staff and visitors to practice good hand hygiene before and after they touch you (patient). Ask your nurse or doctor to demonstrate proper hand hygiene techniques (15 seconds of soap and running water OR waterless alcohol hand rub until hands are dry). You need to clean your hands:
- After using the bathroom
- After blowing your nose
- Before eating and drinking
- Before and after you touch your dressing or wounds
- When your hands are visibly dirty (soiled)
- Before you leave your room