Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- Vancomycin resistant enterococcus (VRE) is a type of germ called bacteria. VRE bacteria can cause infections in your body. Antibiotic medicines are used to kill germs. When the germ enterococcus becomes resistant to (not killed by) the antibiotic vancomycin, it is called VRE. Enterococcus is normally found in your digestive tract, including your intestines and bowel. Enterococcus is also found in the female genital tract, including the uterus (womb) and vagina. A person may carry the VRE germ, but not get infected or sick. A carrier of VRE can give it to other people and make them sick.
- VRE infections spread easily from person to person. People are most often infected with VRE in the hospital, but can also become infected outside the hospital. VRE may cause an infection in your skin, urinary tract, blood, heart, or brain. Signs and symptoms of a VRE infection may include fever, joint and muscle pain, and problems when you urinate. You may have tests on your skin, blood, urine, or bowel movements (BMs) to learn if you have VRE. Treatment may include medicine and germ-killing baths. Washing your hands often and taking other measures can help prevent spreading VRE to other people. With treatment, signs and symptoms, such as a fever, back pain, and problems when you urinate, may decrease. With treatment, infected wounds may heal and prevent the infection from spreading in your body.
AFTER YOU LEAVE:
Take your medicine as directed.
Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
- Antibiotics: This medicine kills the germs that cause a VRE infection. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your caregiver. Finish all of the medicine as prescribed, even if you feel better. Not doing this may make the germs harder to kill. Never take antibiotic medicine without a caregiver's order. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics given to you or someone else to treat another illness.
- Ask your caregiver when you need to return for a follow-up visit. You may need tests after your treatment to check for VRE germs. Keep all appointments. Write down any questions you may have. This way you will remember to ask these questions during your next visit.
Preventing the spread of vancomycin resistant enterococcus:
- Wash your hands: Wash your hands after you urinate or have a BM. Always wash your hands before touching food. Wash your hands before, and after, visiting someone with VRE. Wash your hands even if you were wearing gloves. Use germ-killing soap and water, or you may use alcohol-based hand cleaner. Always wash your hands when they are dirty.
- Keep wounds covered: Keep any wounds that you have clean and covered with a bandage until they are healed. Ask your caregiver how to keep your wound clean and covered.
- Do not share items with others: Do not share items, such as forks, spoons, or knives, with other people.
- Clean surfaces well: Use germ-killing cleaner when cleaning surfaces, such as tables, which are shared and touched often. Keep doorknobs, faucet handles, and furniture clean. Ask your caregiver what cleaner is best to kill VRE germs.
- Be careful when caring for someone with VRE: You are at greater risk of getting VRE when caring for an infected person. You and your family may need to wear gloves and gowns when having contact with the infected person. You will need to bag and wash the dirty clothes from the infected person separately. Healthy adults and children may be able to hug or touch a person with VRE. Ask caregivers how to care for someone with VRE.
For more information:
Contact the following:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta , GA 30333
Phone: 1- 800 - 232-4636
Web Address: http://www.cdc.gov/
- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
NIAID Office of Communications & Government Relations
6610 Rockledge Drive, MSC 6612
Bethesda , MD 20892-6612
Phone: 1- 301 - 496-5717
Phone: 1- 866 - 284-4107
Web Address: www3.niaid.nih.gov
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- You urinate more than usual, cannot empty your bladder, or have pain when you urinate.
- You have a fever.
- You have a rash that is itchy, or spreading over your body.
- You have muscle pain or weakness.
- You have skin areas that are red, swollen, and feel warm. These areas may also be painful.
- You have pus draining from a wound or infection in your skin.
- You have questions or concerns about VRE or your treatment.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- Your throat is swelling, and you are having trouble breathing.
- You have new chest or back pain.
- You have a headache with a stiff neck, and you feel weak or confused.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.