To describe the investigation and control of transmission of vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) in a residential long-term-care (LTC) setting.
A strain of vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium not previously isolated in Ontario colonized five residents of a 254-bed LTC facility in Toronto. The index case was identified when VRE was isolated from a urine culture taken after admission to a local hospital. Screening of rectal swabs from all 235 residents identified four others who were colonized with the same strain of E faecium.
Colonized residents were cohorted. VRE precautions were established as follows: gown and gloves for resident contact, restriction of contact between colonized and noncolonized residents, no sharing of personal equipment, and daily double-cleaning of residents' rooms and wheelchairs.
Two colonized residents died of causes unrelated to VRE. Although bacitracin therapy (75,000 units four times a day X 14 days) failed to eradicate carriage in two of three surviving residents, both cleared their carriage within 7 weeks. Repeat rectal swabs from 224 residents (91%) 2 months after isolation precautions were discontinued and from 125 residents (51%) 9 months later identified no new cases. Total cost of investigation and control was $12,061 (Canadian).
VRE may be transmitted in LTC facilities, and colonized LTC residents could become important VRE reservoirs. Control of VRE transmission in LTC facilities can be achieved even with limited resources.