Klebsiella Pneumoniae

February 2, 2017

Klebsiella Pneumoniae also referred to as, ‘Friedlander’s bacillus’, is a gram-negative bacteria which is typically carried in fecal material and ingested through accidental aspiration or exposure to contaminated medical instruments. It causes different types of healthcare-associated infections, including pneumonia, bloodstream infections, wound or surgical site infections, and meningitis. The bacteria cause the lung’s air sacs (alveoli) to become inflamed and engorged with pus, fluid, and cellular debris. This often impairs the body’s ability to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. If you have bacterial pneumonia you might experience breathlessness or pain as you struggle to take in oxygen.

Klebsiella bacteria are normally found in the human intestines, where they do not cause disease. They are also found in human stool. Generally, Klebsiella infections commonly occur among sick patients who are receiving treatment for other conditions. Patients whose care requires devices like ventilators (breathing machines) or intravenous (vein) catheters, and patients who are taking long courses of certain antibiotics are most at risk for Klebsiella infections. Healthy people usually do not get Klebsiella infections.

The bacterium is antibiotic resistant in many cases, and it may take several courses of antibiotics to find a drug which will effectively fight the bacterium. The Klebsiella bacterium does not just attack the lungs. It can also cause infections in the urinary tract and in wounds, especially in hospital environments, where immune-compromised patients may be at risk of exposure to the bacteria. Klebsiella infection can also lead to bacteremia, a condition in which bacteria is present in the blood.

  1. Pneumoniae can cause –
  • Pneumonia (lung infection)
  • Bloodstream infections
  • Wound infections
  • Surgical site infections
  • Meningitis (an inflammation or infection of the meninges, the membranes covering the spinal cord and brain)
  • Urinary tract infections (UTI)

Diabetics, alcoholics, and immune-compromised individuals are at increased a higher risk of developing klebsiella pneumonia. The condition may start as bronchitis or a mild respiratory infection, which is one reason why it is important to receive medical treatment for such conditions before they develop into something more serious.


Symptoms include those of pneumonia, urinary tract infection and skin and soft tissue infections. They tend to develop in people who are hospitalized or being cared for in a long-term facility.

  • Pneumonia – The sudden onset of fever, fast and shallow breathing and an increasing amount of secretions in the breathing tube may herald the occurrence of pneumonia. If the infection extends to the tissues lining the surface of the lungs, they may also experience chest pain.
  • Urinary Tract Infections – People with an infection of indwelling urinary catheter – a tube that drains urine from inside the body, may develop high fever, lower abdominal pain, bloody urine, chills, back pains and vomiting. Because various organisms normally contaminate catheters without causing any symptoms.
  • Surgical site and Soft tissue Infections – A surgical wound infection should be suspected if fever is accompanied by swelling and color changes or the sudden redness of the tissues surrounding a burn or post-operative wound. The longer the hospital stay and the longer the surgical procedure, the greater the risk of developing surgical wound infections.
  • Abdominal Infections – Abnormal collections of fluid within the organs in the abdomen may result from a variety of organisms, including the Klebsiella bacteria. Such infections produce symptoms such as fever, persistent abdominal pain, chills, nausea and vomiting.


Treatment of K. Pneumoniae Infections


  • Carbapenem – Carbapenems are related to penicillin and often the last line of defense when someone has an infection.
  • Cephalosporin antibiotics – Cephalosporins are newer medications and often given by injection. They include – Ceftriaxone-Rocephin, ceftazadime-Fortaz and cefepime-Maxipime.
  • Aminoglycoside Antibiotics – Aminoglycosides like amikacin, tobramycin and gentamicin also treat Klebsiella infections.
  • Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics – These medications are used to treat pneumonia and urinary tract infections caused by Klebsiella. They include – levafloxacin-Levaquin, ciprofloxacin–Cipro, gemifloxacin-Factive and others.
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