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Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) infections are bacterial infections that are particularly difficult to treat because these bacteria do not respond to the antibiotic vancomycin. The task of controlling a VRE infection therefore becomes more challenging. There are other antibiotics that can be effectively used against these organisms, providing potential treatment methods for an infection by these bacteria. It is particularly important to treat these infections as quickly as possible, since the enterococci are capable of acquiring new antibiotic resistances and even transferring their vancomycin resistance to bacteria of other species.
The main recommended treatment for a VRE infection consists of treatment with several other types of intravenous (IV) antibiotics simultaneously. An assessment of the patient may be made beforehand to which antibiotics will be effective against the particular VRE strains being treated. This can provide a guideline for the antibiotics used. Many times, doctors use a combination of the medications teicoplanin and amoxycillin, or ampicillin and imipenem, both of which are given via IV. At times, vancomycin will be added to the drug combination in order to kill any non-VRE bacteria that may be involved in the infection, but which are not affected by the other mediations used.
Several additional procedures may be performed to reduce the spread of a VRE infection and limit its impact. Doctors or medical professionals may consult state-level laboratories or the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) to report the VRE infection and determine whether it is indicative of a larger trend, as well as to request treatment suggestions. The infected patient will usually be isolated behind sterile barriers to minimize the chance of the infection spreading to nearby individuals. Equipment like stethoscopes or thermometers will be limited to use with only the infected patient, as well.
Maintenance of wounds or other sources of VRE infection must be carefully tended to by doctors for successful treatment. This type of infection can create abscesses, or collections of pus and waste beneath the skin. These abscesses must be lanced and drained to keep them from causing additional harm to the patient. Infections traced to the placement of an IV line will make it necessary for doctors to remove the line and clean the entry point. Many times, urinary catheters will be removed, even if the urethra is not yet infected, in order to ensure that this sensitive area does not serve as a point of future infection.