Klebsiella infections

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Klebsiella is a type of gram-negative bacteria that can cause severe infections, such as:


Where Klebsiella bacteria are found

Klebsiella bacteria are normally found in the human intestines (where they do not cause disease). They are also found in human stool (feces).

People most at risk for Klebsiella infections

In healthcare settings (like hospitals and long-term care facilities), Klebsiella infections commonly occur among sick patients who are receiving treatment for other conditions. Patients who have 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.

How Klebsiella bacteria are spread

To get a Klebsiella infection, a person must be exposed to the bacteria. For example, Klebsiella must enter the respiratory (breathing) tract to cause pneumoniae, or the blood to cause a bloodstream infection.

In healthcare settings, Klebsiella bacteria can be spread through person-to-person contact and from patient-to-patient on the hands of healthcare personnel. The bacteria are not spread through the air.

Patients in healthcare settings may be exposed to Klebsiella when they are on ventilators (breathing machines), or have intravenous (vein) catheters or wounds (caused by injury or surgery). Unfortunately, these medical tools may allow Klebsiella to enter the body and cause infection.

Preventing Klebsiella from spreading

To prevent spreading Klebsiella infections between patients, healthcare personnel must follow specific infection control precautions (see: Guideline for Isolation Precautions: Preventing Transmission of Infectious Agents in Healthcare Settings 2007). These precautions may include wearing gowns and gloves when they enter Klebsiella patient rooms and strict adherence to hand hygiene. Healthcare facilities also must follow strict cleaning procedures to prevent the spread of Klebsiella.

To prevent the spread of infections, patients also should clean their hands very often, including:

  • before preparing or eating food,
  • before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth,
  • before and after changing wound dressings or bandages,
  • after using the restroom,
  • after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, and
  • after touching hospital surfaces such as bed rails, bedside tables, doorknobs, remote controls, or the phone

Drug-resistant Klebsiella

Some Klebsiella bacteria have become highly resistant to antibiotics. When bacteria such as Klebsiella pneumoniaee produce an enzyme known as a carbapenemase (referred to as KPC producing organisms), then the class of antibiotics called carbapenems will not work to kill the bacteria and treat the infection. Unfortunately, carbapenem antibiotics often are the last line of defense against gram-negative infections that are resistant to other antibiotics.

Treating Klebsiella infections

Klebsiella infections that are not drug-resistant can be treated with antibiotics. Infections caused by KPC producing isolates can be difficult to treat because fewer antibiotics will treat the infections. A microbiology laboratory must run tests to determine which antibiotics will treat the infection.

Medpedia-logo.gif The basis of this article is contributed from Medpedia.com These articles are licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License It may have since been edited beyond all recognition. But we thank Medpedia for allowing its use.
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