Not All Patients with VRE Need to be Isolated

August 24, 2010

While vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) have triggered multiple outbreaks, VRE of genotype vanC appear not to be associated with outbreaks, according to Sutter, et al. (2010). The researchers sought to estimate the risk of bloodstream infections in patients colonized with VRE of genotype vanC who received care from a bone marrow transplant unit for patients with leukemia, where only standard precautions were implemented for VRE of genotype vanC during the last nine years.

According to the research published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, since 2000, all patients in the bone marrow transplant unit underwent routine VRE rectal screening, data were prospectively entered in a database, and isolates were molecularly characterized. Infection control policy required contact isolation for patients infected with VRE of genotype vanA or vanB but only standard precautions for patients infected with VRE of genotype vanC.

The researchers report that from January 2000 to July 2008, 290 isolates of VRE of genotype vanC obtained from 273 patients were identified, with an incidence of 25 to 43 isolates per year. Of 290 isolates, 285 (98 percent) were identified in rectal screening swabs, five were from other body sites, and none required specific treatment. During the entire study period, only one case of bloodstream infection was detected, reflecting an incidence of 1 (0.4 percent) of the 273 patients, or <0.2 cases per 1,000 patient-days. No outbreaks were recorded.

Sutter, et al. (2010) conclude that their study data provide strong evidence that carriers of VRE of genotype vanC do not require contact isolation, thus saving resources and potentially improving patient care. They say the genotype should be routinely determined in areas with a high prevalence of VRE of genotype vanC.

Reference: Sutter ST, Frei R, Dangel M, Gratwohl A, Bonten M and Widmer AF. Not All Patients with VRE Need to Be Isolated. Clinical Infectious Diseases 2010;51:678-683.