Although nosocomial acquisition and subsequent colonization of vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), an emerging international threat to public health, has been emphasized in the United States, colonization among nonhospitalized persons has been infrequently documented. In contrast, in Europe, colonization appears to occur frequently in persons outside the health-care setting. An important factor associated with VRE in the community in Europe has been avoparcin, a glycopeptide antimicrobial drug used for years in many European nations at subtherapeutic doses as a growth promoter in food-producing animals. In Europe, evidence suggests that foodborne VRE may cause human colonization. Although avoparcin has never been approved for use in the United States, undetected community VRE transmission may be occurring at low levels. Further studies of community transmission of VRE in the United States are urgently needed. If transmission with VRE from unrecognized community sources can be identified and controlled, increased incidence of colonization and infection among hospitalized patients may be prevented.
McDonald LC, Kuehnert MJ, Tenover FC, Jarvis WR
Emerging Infect. Dis. 1997 Jul-Sep;3(3):311-7