? re: VRE (Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 3 Old 03-23-2006, 05:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi everyone! This is my first time posting on this particular board, although I've been an MDC member for about 4 years.

My poor father (only 57 yrs old) recently had surgery for colon cancer, and has developed several complications from it. His doc's quote was, "Not only has everything that *could* go wrong gone wrong, you've had things go wrong we didn't *know* could go wrong." One of the latest things they've found is a VRE infection. I've heard of MRSA, but never VRE. They immediately put him in a private room with signs on the door, and he's no longer being treated by any pregnant nurses.

I'm assuming he picked this up in the hospital, since out of the below risk factors, he has 5:
Recent hospitalization;
Recent treatment with antibiotics
- especially with vancomycin, extended-spectrum penicillins or third-generation cephalosporins (see the CDC recommendations for appropriate use of vanocomycin and Antibiotic Use, Selection and Resistance framework);
Known colonization with other antimicrobial resistant bacterial strains such as MRSA or VRSA;
Severe acute or chronic disease or immunosuppression;
Abdominal or thoracic surgery;
Indwelling urinary or central venous catheter;

Presence of a pressure sore; and
Presence of a feeding tube.

My DD is very close to my dad, and has visited him several times at the hospital. He's been on lots of blood thinner, and his incision is still leaking (DD hasn't visited him since his 2nd surgery, so hasn't been exposed to any open wounds.) My mom and I wash out hands like crazy when we're there. But I don't know if a) my DD should be visiting her Pa-Pa, or b) if she shouldn't visit, what precautions should I take to keep from giving her an infection?

He's been getting excellent treatment at this hospital, but the hospital staff has been acting very weird about the VRE. The infectious diseases specialist he spoke with told him he probably picked it up from cattle on our ranch, and it wouldn't even exist if "you people" didn't give so many antibiotics to farm animals (for the record, my dad is very opposed to giving abx to his cattle.) I get the feeling the hospital is just scared we'll blame them for the VRE infection, thus they're telling us very little about it.

Also, I can't get a sense from my research how life threatening VRE is. How long is the recovery time? How long will he be contagious? Is it OK for us to carry bottled water into the room to drink it?

I'm sorry this is so long, but I know there are several nurses on this board. I'd really appreciate any info you can give me. Thanks for taking the time to read this far!


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#2 of 3 Old 03-24-2006, 01:08 AM
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I don't have any advice or answers for you, but I couldn't read and not post. Hugs to you and a speedy recovery for your dad.
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#3 of 3 Old 03-24-2006, 01:50 AM
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I'm sorry to hear that are getting a weird vibe from the hospital staff. That doctor was way out of line, the people who prescribe antibiotics (ie: MDs) are not completely blameless!
Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci (VRE) is spread by casual contact with others or through contaminted objects. The people who become ill from VRE are people who have a weakend immune system and having abdominal surgery will put one at a higher risk for a VRE infection. A person could have VRE in their system and not be ill. Enterococci is one of the naturally occuring bacteria in your body. So just like any of the other bacteria that live in your body, if the enterococci over grow you will become ill. Also, VRE is considered a nosocomial infection, which means a hospital acquired infection, not a farm acquired infection . It may take weeks or months for your father to recover from this infection. Hopefully, his youth will be in his favor and he will heal quickly.
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