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Screening Cultures for Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci (VRE)

Many hospitals have chosen to implement screening programs to identify patients who are colonized with VRE. Screening patients provides information about potential source of illness and allows staff to implement appropriate infection control measures. These measures decrease transmission and reduce the number of patients who become infected with VRE.
Peri-rectal or anal swabs, as well as stool specimens, are inoculated onto selective media. One medium utilized is bile esculin azide agar containing 6µg/mL of vancomycin. Black colonies that grow on this medium are identified as Enterococcus to the species level and further confirmed as vancomycin-resistant by an appropriate susceptibility testing method.
Chromogenic agars specific for VRE are also commercially available.