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Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci Infection

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci Infection

(VRE Infection; Multiply-Resistant Enterococci)


Enterococci is bacteria that can cause infection. Vancomycin is an antibiotic used to treat this infection. It does not work on some types of the bacteria. This is called vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) infection.

The Intestines.

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The bacteria spreads from people or objects that carry it. This can cause the infection.

A VRE infection is one that does not get better when a person takes vancomycin.

Risk Factors

Things that may raise the risk are:

  • Being treated with vancomycin or another antibiotic for a long time
  • Recent hospital or care center stay
  • Recent surgery or a device inserted
  • Having a weakened immune system from problems like cancer


Symptoms depend on where the infection is found. A person may have problems from a:

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Abdominal and pelvic infection
  • Surgical wound infection
  • Sepsis—an overreaction of the body to infection
  • Endocarditis—an infection of the inside of the heart muscles and valves
  • Meningitis—an infection of the layers that surround the brain and spinal cord


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.

Blood tests will be done. Samples will also be taken of the area that is infected. This can help the doctor choose an antibiotic that will treat it.


The goal is to treat the infection. This can be done with:


Proper hand washing can lower the risk of VRE infection.


VRE infection can be treated with other antibiotics. The one that is chosen depends on the infection and how severe it is.

Catheter Removal

A person who has a catheter in place may have it removed. This lowers the risk of more infection.





  • Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) infection. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/vancomycin-resistant-enterococci-vre-infection.
  • Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) in healthcare settings. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/hai/organisms/vre/vre.html.


  • Kari Kuenn, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.