Enterococci are bacteria found in the gastrointestinal tract (bowel) in most healthy people. They can also be found on the skin and in wounds. This is normal and does not usually cause a problem. However, in people who are already very ill, enterococci may cause an infection.
Enterococci are naturally resistant to many antibiotics, and they can become resistant to other antibiotics. VRE are the same bacteria that normally live in the bowel, but they have become resistant to an antibiotic called vancomycin. VRE are not easier to acquire and do not cause worse infections than other enterococci.
VRE have been found both in the community and the hospital setting on persons and their surroundings. They are mainly spread by contact with unwashed hands.
VRE are no more dangerous than other normal bacteria that people carry on their skin and are exposed to every day. Carry on with your usual activities and remind everyone to clean their hands often.
- Clean your hands before meals, and after you go to the bathroom or touch your nose or a wound.
- Wash and dry soiled laundry in the regular cycle of your washer and dryer to kill any bacteria.
- Bathe regularly with soap and water.
- Keep your environment clean.