Frequently Asked Questions

What is an antibiotic resistant germ?

When someone has an infection, antibiotics are medicines that are used to kill the germ (bacteria) that causes the infection. An antibiotic resistant germ is not killed by the usual antibiotics. If an antibiotic resistant germ causes an
infection, then a stronger drug must be used.
What is enterococcus?

Enterococcus is a common bacterium that is normally found in the lower intestine. Sometimes this bacterium causes infections and requires treatment. Only a few antibiotics can effectively treat enterococci infections, and one of them is vancomycin.
What is VRE?

Vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE) is a type of enterococcus that has developed resistance to many commonly used antibiotics, especially an antibiotic called vancomycin.
How did I get VRE?

VRE has been found in the community and the hospital setting on persons and their surroundings. It is mainly spread by contact with unwashed hands or gloves.
Why are special precautions needed?

Special precautions are needed in order to prevent the spread of the germ to other patients in the hospital who are also ill and therefore most likely to develop an infection.

What will be different?

Infection Control personnel will decide whether you need to stay in your room. If you are asked to stay in your room, Infection Control staff will advise your healthcare provider when and how often you may leave your room. In some cases, visitors may be limited to a few at a time.
You will be taught how to wash your hands with a skin antiseptic. You must wash your hands after using the toilet and every time before leaving your room. Do not be shy about reminding everyone to wash.
Signs will be placed outside the room to remind everyone about the special precautions. Infection Control personnel will decide if people taking care of you need to wear gowns and/or gloves. Your room may be specially cleaned to remove the VRE germs. In some cases, equipment used in your daily care will remain in your room.
What will happen when I leave the hospital?

If you go to another health care facility or if you have services in your home, some precautions might be needed. This is to prevent your caregivers from picking up the germ and spreading it to other patients. Good hand washing is very important to reduce the risk of spread.
What about at home?

VRE is 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 wash their hands often. You should wash your hands after you go to the bathroom or touch your wound as a matter of routine, not just for VRE.

Will this go away?

It might go away on its own. You may be asked to wash your body with a special skin antiseptic. This may help to get rid of the VRE faster. Later on, cultures may be taken from certain parts of your body to see if the germ is gone.