Klebsiella pneumoniae is a gram-negative bacteria that normally live in your intestines. The bacteria are usually harmless but can be very dangerous especially if you are sick and if it spreads to the other parts of your body. Klebsiella can cause serious infections and can infect many parts of the body such as:
The bacteria can cause a severe infection of the blood or wounds. Klebsiella infection is very difficult to treat and is resistant to many antibiotics.
Who are at risk of Klebsiella Pneumoniae?
Healthy people generally do not get the infection. People who are suffering from long-term disease or are in prolonged use of antibiotics may get this infection. Also, people with a weak immune system may be susceptible to this bacterial infection.
People may get klebsiella infection if they have the following health problems:
- Kidney disease
- Liver problems
- Lung disease
- COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Alcohol abuse
- Old age
- Prolonged use of antibiotics
- Long-term hospitalization
- Using a ureter catheter or intravenous tubes
- Organ transplant
Klebsiella Pneumoniae Causes
According to the latest reports of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), healthy people usually do not get the klebsiella infection.
Usually, the infection is contracted during prolonged hospitalization or while receiving treatment in a healthcare facility. People with a weak immune system like injured or sick people, or patients who have undergone surgery can get the infection.
Klebsiella bacteria are not airborne. It will not be transmitted by breathing in the same air as an infected person. The infection spreads through direct contact with an infected person. Here are a few ways through which you can contract the bacteria:
- The infection can be transmitted by breathing in contaminated air through ventilators.
- Infected intravenous tubes can transmit the infection into your bloodstream.
- A long course of antibiotics may result in the development of drug-resistant strains used for the treatment of klebsiella.
Klebsiella Pneumoniae Symptoms
The symptoms of klebsiella vary according to the body part it has infected and the disease it has caused.
Symptoms of pneumonia klebsiella include:
- Fever and chills.
- Yellow mucus or blood in the mucus.
- Chest pain.
- Shortness of breath.
Symptoms of urinary tract infection due to klebsiella bacteria:
- Frequent urge for urination.
- Pain or a burning sensation while urinating.
- Blood in the urine.
- Foul-smelling urine.
- Cloudy urine.
- Pain in the pelvic region while urinating.
- Lower abdomen discomfort.
Symptoms of urinary tract infection in kidneys include:
- Fever or chills.
- Pain in the side and upper back region.
Symptoms of klebsiella infection in the skin or soft tissue include:
- Redness of the skin.
- Swelling of the skin tissue.
Klebsiella pneumoniae can cause meningitis. Symptoms include:
- High fever.
- Stiffness of the neck.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Photophobia or sensitivity to light.
Symptoms of endophthalmitis due to klebsiella infection include:
- Redness of the eyes.
- Pain in the eyes.
- Yellow or white discharge from the eye.
- Cloudiness in the cornea.
- Blurred vision
Klebsiella can cause liver abscesses. Symptoms include:
- Chronic diarrhea.
- Right upper abdomen pain.
Symptoms of blood infection due to klebsiella are:
- Fever or chills.
- Uncontrolled shaking of the body.
Klebsiella Pneumoniae Diagnosis
Diagnosis and detection of Klebsiella pneumoniae depend on the type of infection and the organs it has infected. Different tests are done to detect the infection such as:
- Sample specimens of blood, mid-stream urine, sputum test, and cerebrospinal fluids can be collected and tested for the infection.
- A physical examination of the infected wound can be done. A specimen of the infected tissue is examined to detect the infection.
- Imaging studies are also done to detect the type of infection. In the case of pneumonia, a chest x-ray can be done. For liver abscess, an ultrasound or CT scan can help detect the infection. For lung infection, a PET scan is usually done.
- Susceptibility testing may also be done to detect the antibiotics that can be used for the treatment of the infection. The test also can determine antibiotics which are resistant to the infection.
In case the infection has occurred due to the use of contaminated equipment like ventilators or intravenous catheters, the doctor may examine the medical equipment for a possible source of infection.
Klebsiella Pneumoniae Characteristics
The general characteristics of Klebsiella pneumoniae are:
- It is a gram-negative bacteria.
- A non-spore-forming bacteria which is not active in general but may cause serious illnesses if triggered.
- A facultative anaerobe.
- Positive catalase test.
- Negative oxidase test.
- Lactose-fermenting bacteria.
- Presence of capsular polysaccharides.
- Non-motile bacterial species.
Diseases caused by Klebsiella Pneumoniae
Klebsiella pneumoniae can cause several clinical syndromes.
Klebsiella-induced bacterial pneumoniae can be of two types – community-acquired pneumonia and hospital-induced pneumonia.
If you are infected with Klebsiella pneumonia in public places like malls, stations, subways, and parks it is called community-acquired pneumonia.
Hospital-induced pneumonia occurs when you get infected during a hospital stay or in a nursing home.
UTI or Urinary Tract Infection
Urinary tract infection or UTI occurs when the Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria enter your urinary tracts and infects it. It can infect any part of your urinary tract like the urethra, ureters, bladder, or the kidneys.
Klebsiella-induced Urinary tract infection can happen due to prolonged use of urinary catheters. It mostly occurs in older women.
Klebsiella Infection of Skin or Soft Tissue
Klebsiella can cause infection to your skin. It usually occurs if there is an injury or wound in your skin. You can also get an infection on the site of recent surgery.
Klebsiella can cause wound infections such as cellulitis, myositis, and necrotizing fasciitis of the skin.
Bacterial meningitis is a serious form of infection. If untreated, it can cause strokes, seizures, paralysis, sepsis, and death.
Meningitis is a swelling or inflammation of the membranes of the brain and the spinal cord. Klebsiella pneumoniae meningitis usually occurs during the hospital stay of the patient.
Klebsiella can cause a pyogenic liver abscess or PLA. It happens when the bacteria infect the liver and pus is formed in the liver. Pus is your body’s defense mechanism and forms when the body is fighting the infection.
In cases of pyogenic liver abscess, pus-filled lesions are formed inside the liver. It can cause swelling or inflammation in and around the area of the abscess accompanied by pain and discomfort in the abdomen.
Klebsiella liver abscess generally occurs in patients suffering from long-term diabetes who are under antibiotic medication. PLA can be fatal if it is not treated on time.
Endophthalmitis or Infection of the Eye
Endophthalmitis is a severe inflammation of the eye. It can cause inflammation and pain in the eye and generally occurs during surgery of the eye or if the eye is wounded.
Infection of the Blood
Klebsiella can infect your blood and cause bacteremia which is a form of blood poisoning or severe infection of the blood.
Primary bacteremia occurs when the blood is infected by klebsiella. In the case of secondary bacteremia, the infection spreads to other organs of the body. The primary cause of bacteremia is the infection of the lungs. If untreated, bacteremia can be fatal and can cause sepsis.
Treatment for Klebsiella Pneumoniae Infections
Klebsiella infections can be treated with antibiotic medications. Doctors recommend immediate treatment to prevent lapse or recurrence of the infection. However, some types of Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria are resistant to antibiotics. This can make the treatment complicated.
Klebsiella pneumoniae produces a type of enzyme called Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemases or KPC. These enzymes make the bacteria resistant to almost all kinds of antibiotics and even carbapenems. Carbapenem-resistant klebsiella infections have serious implications and can be fatal.
In case you are resistant to an antibiotic, your doctor will do certain tests and recommend a different antibiotic to treat the infection. In certain cases, a combination of antibiotics is used for treatment.
Patients are advised to follow the doctor’s instructions and finish the course of antibiotics. You should complete the full course of antibiotics to prevent a recurrence of the infection. Follow up with your doctor after the completion of your course. Your doctor may ask you to do a repeat test to determine whether you have completely recovered or not.
What antibiotics treat Klebsiella Pneumoniae?
Drugs that are effective in the treatment of Klebsiella infections include:
How to prevent Klebsiella from spreading?
To prevent klebsiella from spreading, patients and healthcare authorities must follow some basic self-hygiene and infection-control measures.
To protect yourself from klebsiella infection you must always wash your hands:
- Before eating your food.
- After visiting the washrooms.
- Before preparing the food.
- After sneezing, coughing, or touching the nose.
- Before touching the nose, eyes, mouth, or any open wound.
- After a visit to the hospital, nursing home, or doctor’s office.
- Remember to wash your hands after visiting a klebsiella patient.
What to keep in mind for hospital treatment?
If you want to take hospital care, take the following steps to keep yourself safe from the infection:
- Follow your personal hygiene to prevent infection.
- Inform your nurse or the hospital staff if the bandages, IV tubes, or any other medical equipment is contaminated or wet.
- Make sure you remove the catheter or ventilator when you don’t need it
- Ask the hospital staff what precautions they take to keep the environment clean and safe.
- Always ensure that the washroom you are using is clean.
- Ask visitors to clean their hands before entering your room.
- Inform your family or the doctor immediately if you have a fever or any other signs of infection.
The mortality rates of klebsiella re high. Healthcare facilities should follow all precautionary measures to keep the hospital safe from infections. Precautionary measures include:
- Keep the healthcare personnel, nurses, doctors, and other staff members of the hospital updated with the latest infection-control measures.
- Follow personal hygiene.
- Nurses and doctors who take care of the klebsiella patients should strictly abide by the infection-control measures to prevent the spread of the bacteria.
- Try to use medical devices only once to prevent transmission.
- Always wear clean gowns, gloves, and clothes when they enter the rooms of the patients.
- Wash hands after contacting a klebsiella patient.
- Wash hands before and after changing the dressing of a patient.
- Hospital personnel should always wash their hands after touching hospital surfaces and equipment.
Can klebsiella infection spread to the patient’s family members?
Healthy family members are at little or no risk of acquiring the infection. They should follow the basic rules of hygiene to keep themselves safe from the infection such as:
- Avoid any direct contact with the infected patient.
- Always wash hands before and after visiting the hospital.
- Follow hand hygiene to avoid the disease.
- Inform the doctor if you are exhibiting any signs or symptoms of the klebsiella infection.
How long does it take to recover from Klebsiella Infection?
Recovery from Klebsiella pneumoniae infection depends on many factors such as:
- Your age.
- The health condition of the patient.
- The severity of the infection.
- Klebsiella pneumoniae strain.
If you go through the prognosis of the disease and treatment early, then recovery is fast. Klebsiella can be fatal. Early treatment lowers the risk of life-threatening diseases and in some cases even death.
Visit a doctor immediately if you are showing any signs or symptoms of the infection. Your doctor may put you in an antibiotic therapy after the prognosis of the disease.
Doctors advise to completing the entire course of antibiotics for a full recovery. If you stop taking the medications, the symptoms and infection may come back.
Klebsiella tends to weaken the body. Ensure to take a healthy diet for faster recovery.
In some cases, the infection may be severe and can cause permanent damage to the organ it has infected. For example, a severe case of Klebsiella pneumoniae can permanently damage the lungs.
Recovery can take several weeks or months. It depends on the type of infection and its severity. You must visit the doctor regularly to not relapse again.