Ten Facts About Klebsiella pneumoniae

Klebsiella bacteria are fast becoming the cause of the most harmful healthcare acquired infections, with the Klebsiella pneumoniae strain being of particular concern for the medical community.

This coupled with the growing threat of antibiotic resistance means that we should all be wary of Klebsiella bacteria and take necessary precautions to avoid contracting an infection.

Read on for 10 facts about Klebsiella pneumoniae:

 

1. The Klebsiella genus is named after the German microbiologist Edwin Klebs, who was well known for his extensive work on infectious diseases.

 

2. The bacteria is found in the human intestines and stool where it poses no risk to healthy people.  It’s only when the bacteria is transferred either into the respiratory system or bloodstream that an infection can occur.

 

3. There is a great agricultural interest in Klebsiella pneumoniae, which is found naturally in soil, as it has been proven to increase crop yields.

 

4. Klebsiella pneumoniae can cause respiratory infections such as pneumonia if airborne particles are inhaled, whilst blood infections can occur from wounds and surgical sites and can lead to meningitis and sepsis.

 

5. Klebsiella pneumoniae infections are increasingly common in healthcare settings.  As with many bacterial infections, those with weakened immune systems or underlying health issues are most at risk along with patients who are already receiving treatment for other conditions or are taking long-course antibiotics.

 

6. Patients who require medical devices like ventilators and intravenous catheters are susceptible to contracting an infection if cross contamination occurs from unsanitary equipment. 

 

7. There is also a risk of person-to-person transmission from the hands of healthcare workers, patients or visitors which makes practicing good hand hygiene integral to reducing the risk of Klebsiella pneumoniae spread. 

 

8. If a patient contracts a Klebsiella pneumoniae infection that is not drug-resistant, then antibiotics are usually prescribed to treat it.  The full course should always be taken to completion in case some bacteria survive and the infection starts up again.

 

9. Some strains are resistant to the class of antibiotics known as carbapenems – which are considered to be the last resort for bacterial infections of this nature.  The bacteria made the headlines in early 2017 when a patient in the US died from a Klebsiella pneumoniae infection after 26 different antibiotics failed to treat it.

 

10. A 2017 study discovered evidence of Klebsiella pneumoniae on the London Underground’s Victoria Line along with E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas.

 

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Image: CDC

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