Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) refers to two bacterial strains of the genus Enterococcus (as E. faecium and E. faecalis) that have developed resistance to many antibiotics, especially vancomycin. The majority of people who acquire VRE have the bacteria present (or colonized) in their large bowels but do not become sick with an infection.
However, people who become colonized with VRE are at higher risk of developing a VRE infection. VRE infections are more difficult to treat than other infections with enterococci, because fewer antibiotics can kill the bacteria. These infections can occur anywhere in the body (especially within the urinary tract, blood, or surgical wounds) and typically amongst immunocompromised individuals in a hospital setting.
VRE is one of Ontario’s publicly reported patient safety indicators and there is a growing body of literature exploring multiple aspects of VRE from treatment outcomes, to VRE control strategies, to VRE trends over time in the province. PHO has been contributing to this evidence base, exploring different questions to better inform stakeholders on VRE. Learn more about our VRE program of research.