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  • What Is Klebsiella Pneumoniae?

    Klebsiella is the genus name for a bacterium that is found in the intestinal, respiratory, and urogenital tracts of our body. Klebsiella pneumoniae belongs to the Enterobacteriaceae family of bacteria. It is rod shaped, non-motile, and a gram negative bacterium. The bacterium has a polysaccharide capsule that encloses it; this makes the treatment of Klebsiella pneumoniae extremely difficult, since, the capsule provides the bacteria with resistance to most anti-biotics.

    Klebsiella pneumoniae is a resident of the intestinal track in 40% of the people; and is an opportunistic microbe, meaning, under certain conditions it causes diseases. Klebsiella pneumoniae is also found in abundance in the soil, water and vegetables. By and large, Klebsiella pneumoniae infection occurs in people having a weakened immune system. Most infections develop when one is hospitalized; the commonest infection caused by Klebsiella outside the hospital is pneumonia.

    Risk Factors and Causes Associated with Klebsiella Pneumoniae Infection

    Klebsiella pneumoniae affects those individuals who have an underlying disease, such as, diabetes, chronic lung disease or alcoholism. Hospital acquired infections occur due to invasive treatments, such as, intravenous catheters used for fluid administration, catheters introduced into the bladder to drain urine and breathing tubes for those on a ventilator; these significantly increase one's vulnerability to the bacterial infection. Infection occurs when the person’s immune system fails to fight the bacteria. What's more, those who require invasive treatments, already have a weak immune system due to their underlying disease.

    Symptoms of Klebseilla Pneumoniae Infection

    • Klebsiella pneumonia tends to have a severe and a relatively rapid onset that results in the destruction of the lung tissue.

    • Common clinical manifestations include: flu like symptoms, high fever, chills, and cough productive of a lot of mucous. The mucous is usually viscous and bloody

    • Empyema develops, i.e. pus surrounds the lung and scars the lung tissue.

    • Klebsiella can also cause less serious respiratory illnesses, like, bronchitis.

    • Urinary tract infection, surgical wound infection and toxaemia are other hospital acquired infections triggered by Klebsiella. All these may progress to death if not treated appropriately.

    Treating Klebseilla Pneumoniae Infection

    Timely and aggressive treatment is the most crucial aspect of treating infections related to Klebseilla. However, treatment options are somewhat limited, since these microbes are resistant to most anti-biotics. The treatment protocol comprises of:

    • First and foremost, the doctor carries out a gram-staining technique along with bio-chemical assessment to recognize the bacteria causing pneumonia.

    • Once the doctor makes the diagnosis, various treatment options need to be considered; given that the bacteria are resistant to most drugs.

    Anti-biotics are started in most cases to curb the infection. More often than not, only cephalosporins and aminoglycosides are found to be useful against Klebsiella pneumoniae. Systemic infections are treated with other 3rd generation anti-biotics.

    The mortality rate for Klebsiella pneumonia is about 50%. Pneumonia, by and large, resolves without any complication, however, Klebsiella pneumonia causes massive destruction of the lung tissue. The mortality rate for untreated cases is about 90%. Furthermore, the mortality rate is 100 % for those who have developed bacteremia and are alcoholics.