By John Robbins, via Bullet News, April 25, 2013

NIAGARA FALLS – The Niagara Health System is dealing with a superbug outbreak on one of the wards at its Niagara Falls hospital site.

NHS officials said Thursday they have declared an outbreak of Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus – known more commonly by the acronym VRE.

The outbreak is localized on Unit C of Greater Niagara General.

An outbreak is declared when the number of hospital-associated cases is higher than what is seen as the normal threshold.

There have been five cases in Unit C since April 16. Two cases remain on the unit.

Enterococci are germs that live in the bowels of most people and generally do not cause harm.

Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) are strains of enterococci that are resistant to the antibiotic vancomycin.

If a person has an infection caused by VRE, such as a urinary tract infection or blood infection, it may be more difficult to treat.

VRE is spread from one person to another by contact.

That’s why good hand hygiene is so important in curbing the spread of superbugs.

Hospital officials all infection prevention and control measures are in place to control the spread of the infection and bring the outbreak to an end “as quickly as possible.”