Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecalis (VRE) is a strain of the pathogenic bacteria Enteroccocus that is resistant to the antibiotic vancomycin. Enterococci are not generally regarded as highly virulent bacterial pathogens. However, resistance to many antimicrobial drugs complicates treatment of enterococcal infections. Acquired resistance to high concentrations of glycopeptide antibiotics, specifically vancomycin, has created new problems with treatment and prevention.
Enterococci are normal inhabitants of the alimentary canal and typically do not cause serious infections. However, since the rise of antibiotic-resistant strains in the mid-80’s, infection can be a serious threat to those who are already ill or have weakened immune systems. Like other Enterococcus strains, VRE can be spread from one person to another through casual contact or through contaminated objects. Commonly VRE infections are transmitted in a healthcare setting, either from the hands of a healthcare worker or another contaminated surface.
Symptoms of VRE infection will depend on the area of infection. VRE can infect the urinary tract, open wounds, and occasionally the respiratory tract. These symptoms can include: