Klebsiella are bacteria which usually live in the gastro-intestinal tract of about 40 % of all people. They do not cause symptoms within the digestive tract normally, but are known to cause ‘opportunistic’ infections; i.e. they develop when one’s immune system gets compromised.
Klebsiella can infect the urinary tract as well as the respiratory tract; but the gravest site of infection is the lungs, where Klebsiella triggers a rapidly spreading and destructive form of pneumonia.
Types Of Klebsiella Infections And Their Symptoms
Klebsiella cause symptoms which tend to vary depending upon the site of the infection. Clinical features include – pneumonia, skin and soft tissue infections and urine infections. They usually develop in those who have been hospitalized or are being cared for in a long-term facility.
- Pneumonia: People develop Klebsiella pneumonia if they have diabetes mellitus, have an underlying lung disease or are alcoholics. Those who are in a hospital and are on to mechanical ventilators are at a very high risk of developing infection. It is characterized by sudden fever, rapid, shallow breathing, chest pain, and profuse secretions in the breathing tube.
- Urinary tract infections: Those who have an in-dwelling urinary catheter are known to develop urine infections; it manifests as high fever, pain in the abdomen, blood in urine, back pains and vomiting.
- Abdominal infection: In the abdomen, Klebsiella causes abdominal pain, bloating, fever with chills, nausea and vomiting. Timely draining of the fluid that has collected along with administration of appropriate antibiotics is very vital to treat the infection.
- Surgical site infections: If you have had a long surgical procedure or have to stay at the hospital for a very long time, there is a high risk of developing surgical wound Klebsiella infections. It manifests as swelling and changes in color, a sudden redness of tissues around a post-operative wound. If case of obesity, diabetes mellitus, an ongoing infection or some other medical condition, it makes you more susceptible to infections, and you will notice a non-healing of your surgical wound even with anti-microbial treatment.
Given that there is a huge likelihood of widespread infection with drug resistant bacteria, it is imperative that you consult a physician immediately, more so, in case your symptoms fail to improve after antibiotic treatment or if you notice difficulty whilst breathing, lassitude, and an alteration in behavior or changes in consciousness.
Neglect can have very grave consequences. These clinical features are an indication of the onset of life threatening widespread infection and it calls for urgent medical intervention.
How Do You Get Klebsiella Infection?
Klebsiella is usually found in the colon and is a normal resident of the GI tract. When the bacteria travel in to the bloodstream or to the lungs, very severe infections such as bronchitis, pneumonia as well as urinary tract infections tend to develop.
People develop Klebsiella infections because they have a weak immune mechanism. Mechanical ventilators, in-dwelling tubes to drain urine, burns and open wounds all encourage the Klebsiella infection.
Klebsiella infections occur frequently when one has a long hospital stay and are more likely in those who have a compromised immunity. It is important to remember that getting rid of Klebsiella infection is rather difficult given that the bacteria are quite resistant to many of the common antibiotics.