by EBSCO Medical Review Board
(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


You will be asked about your 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:


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.


Proper hand washing can lower the risk of VRE infection.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

National Institutes of Health 


Canadian Association of Gastroenterology 

Health Canada 


Cattoir V, Leclercq R. Twenty-five years of shared life with vancomycin-resistant enterococci: is it time to divorce? J Antimicrob Chemother. 2013 Apr;68(4):731-742.

Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) infection. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed September 17, 2020.

Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) in healthcare settings. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Accessed September 17, 2020.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kassir, MD
  • Review Date: 03/2020
  • Update Date: 04/13/2021