Not all patients with vancomycin-resistant enterococci need to be isolated

Clin Infect Dis. 2010 Sep 15;51(6):678-83. doi: 10.1086/655824.


Background: Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) have triggered multiple outbreaks. However, VRE of genotype vanC appear not to be associated with outbreaks. The goal of this study was 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 9 years.

Methods: 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.

Results: From January 2000 to July 2008, 290 isolates of VRE of genotype vanC obtained from 273 different patients were identified, with an incidence of 25-43 isolates/year. Of 290 isolates, 285 (98%) were identified in rectal screening swabs, 5 were from other body sites, and none required specific treatment. During the entire study period, only 1 case of bloodstream infection was detected, reflecting an incidence of 1 (0.4%) of the 273 patients, or <0.2 cases per 1000 patient-days. No outbreaks were recorded.

Conclusions: These data provide strong evidence that carriers of VRE of genotype vanC do not require contact isolation, thereby saving resources and potentially improving patient care. The genotype should be routinely determined in areas with a high prevalence of VRE of genotype vanC.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteremia / epidemiology
  • Bacteremia / microbiology
  • Bacteremia / prevention & control
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation / adverse effects
  • Carbon-Oxygen Ligases / genetics
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology*
  • Cross Infection / microbiology
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Enterococcus / drug effects*
  • Enterococcus / genetics
  • Enterococcus / isolation & purification
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / epidemiology*
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Leukemia / complications
  • Leukemia / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Isolation*
  • Peptide Synthases / genetics
  • Risk Factors
  • Vancomycin Resistance*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • VanA ligase, Bacteria
  • VanB protein, Enterococcus
  • Carbon-Oxygen Ligases
  • Peptide Synthases
  • VanC protein, Enterococcus