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Klebsiella Pneumoniae infection – Symptoms, Risks, Diagnosis and Treatment

What is Klebsiella pneumoniae infection?

Klebsiella Pneumoniae are common bacteria that are usually harmless when they are present in the intestines, But can be dangerous if they enter into the other parts of the body, especially if people are already ill. They can convert into “superbugs” that are almost impossible to fight with common antibiotics. They  can cause pneumonia, infect the wounds or blood and lead to other serious problems.

Who is at risk for Klebsiella pneumonia?

Klebsiella infections are caused by the bacteria Klebsiella Pneumoniae. Infections are uncommon in healthy people because their immune systems are strong enough to resist microbes. But the infections are more likely if people suffer from health problems including:

Prolonged use of certain antibiotics or other treatments may also increase the risk of klebsiella infection.

How do people catch klebsiella infection?

These germs do not circulate through the air.  People require direct contact for getting sick. 

Most infections occur in hospitals, nursing homes, and other places. The germs might also spread when they are present on medical equipment, including:

  • IV catheters, intravenous tubes 
  • Endotracheal tubes and ventilators, that aid the patients in breathing
  • Urinary catheters

What are the symptoms of Klebsiella Pneumoniae?

The symptoms are dependent on the location of the infection. For instance, if bacteria cause pneumonia, the patient can suffer from:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Mucus, which can be thick and bloody

Klebsiella pneumonia can also affect other parts of the body. For instance, the surgical wound may be infected. Other infections include that of :

How is Klebsiella Pneumoniae diagnosed?

The doctor can perform various tests to diagnose a Klebsiella infection. The test depends on the patient’s symptoms and may include:

  1. Physical exam – if the patient has a wound, the doctor will examine for signs of an infection. The doctor can also examine the eye if the patient suffers from eye-related symptoms.
  2. Fluid samples – the doctor may take samples of the patient’s blood, mucus, urine, or cerebral spinal fluid and these samples are examined for bacteria.
  3. Imaging tests –  if the doctor suspects pneumonia, a Chest X-ray or CT scan will be performed by the doctor to examine the lungs. If the doctor thinks the patient might be suffering from a liver abscess, they can perform an ultrasound or CT scan.

If the patient is on a ventilator or catheter, then the doctor might test these devices for Klebsiella Pneumoniae. 

How is Klebsiella infection treated? 

Klebsiella Pneumoniae may be dangerous, so doctors immediately begin the treatment with antibiotics. 

If the doctor prescribes antibiotics, the patient must consume them exactly as instructed. If the patient stops taking them earlier than instructed, the infection can return. If the patients suffer from an antibiotic-resistant infection, the doctor will determine the best way in which it can be treated. In all likelihood, they will try a different type of antibiotic or a combination of them.

The majority of people who get klebsiella infection recover. However, some cases can be fatal, mainly pneumonia in people who are already very ill.

How can Klebsiella Pneumoniae be prevented?

People can protect themselves by always washing their hands before they :

  • Eat
  • Touch their eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Change the bandages on a wound

They must also thoroughly wash their hands after they do the following:

  • Use the washroom
  • Blow their nose, sneeze, or cough 
  • Touch objects that may contain germs on their surface

If patients go to the hospital for treatment, they must take the following measures to protect themselves:

  • Before they go to the hospital, the patients must make sure that they follow the treatment plan for current health conditions such as diabetes
  • Ask the staff about the steps that they take to prevent infection
  • Ask any person who enters their room to wash their hands first.
  • Educate family members about fever and other signs of infection so that they can reach out for help quickly.

Conclusion

Klebsiella pneumoniae (K. pneumoniae) are usually benign when present in the intestines and faeces, but they can be threatening when in the other parts of the body. Klebsiella can cause serious infections in the lungs, bladder, brain, liver, eyes, blood, and wounds. The symptoms are dependent on the type of infection.

The infection is transmitted through person-to-person contact. The risk is higher if people are sick. In general, healthy people do not get Klebsiella infection.

If people get K. pneumoniae, they can require antibiotics for treatment. Some strains are drug-resistant; however, the doctor can decide which antibiotic works best. Recovery can take many months, but early treatment improves the chances of easier recovery.

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