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Disease Profile

Klebsiella infection

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.


US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset





Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable


Other names (AKA)



Bacterial infections


Klebsiella is a type of bacteria commonly found in nature. In humans, the bacteria are often present in parts of the digestive tract where they do not generally cause problems. In the United States, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Klebsiella oxytoca are the two strains responsible for most human illnesses. Many Klebsiella infections are acquired in the hospital setting or in long-term care facilities. In fact, Klebsiellae account for up to 8% of all hospital-acquired infections. People with a compromised immune system and/or people who have an implanted medical device (such as a urinary catheter or airway tube) are more at risk for Klebsiella infections. Extensive use of antibiotics has resulted in the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of Klebsiella. These infections can be more aggressive and difficult to treat.[1][2][3][4]


Klebsiella can cause infection in different parts of the body including the lungs, urinary tract, or the bloodstream. The signs and symptoms of a Klebsiella infection will vary with the site of infection.[1][3]


Klebsiella can cause community-acquired pneumonia. In the United States, community-acquired pneumonia is more common in alcoholics or in those with diabetes or other underlying health concerns.[1][4]

In the United States, many Klebsiella infections are acquired in the hospital or in long-term care facilities. Those with an underlying medical disorder, those who are immunocompromised, those with an implanted medical device (such as a urinary catheter or airway tube), and those being treated with antibiotics are at greater risk for acquiring a Klebsiella infection.[1][2][3][4] 

Widespread antibiotic use has resulted in antibiotic-resistant strains which are harder to treat. [1][4]


Klebsiella infections are usually diagnosed by examining a sample of the infected tissue such as sputum, urine, or blood. Depending on the site of infection, imaging tests such as ultrasounds, X-rays, and computerized tomography (CT) may also be useful. Susceptibility testing can help determine which antibiotics are likely to be effective.[1][3]


The antibiotic regimen for Klebsiella infections will vary depending on the organ system involved and the results of susceptibility testing. Uncomplicated cases of Klebsiella infections that are not drug-resistant may be treated with antibiotics like other bacterial infections. Infections acquired in the hospital setting may be more difficult to treat because they are more likely to be resistant to many antibiotics. Those who are infected with an antibiotic-resistant strain of Klebsiella should be placed on contact isolation precautions. Infectious disease doctors may be helpful in distinguishing between Klebsiellae that is causing an infection and Klebsiellae that are present without causing harm (colonization).[1][3]

Learn more

These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

Where to Start

  • You can obtain information on this topic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC is recognized as the lead federal agency for developing and applying disease prevention and control, environmental health, and health promotion and education activities designed to improve the health of the people of the United States.

In-Depth Information

  • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
  • The Merck Manual for health care professionals provides information on Klebsiella infection.
  • The Monarch Initiative brings together data about this condition from humans and other species to help physicians and biomedical researchers. Monarch’s tools are designed to make it easier to compare the signs and symptoms (phenotypes) of different diseases and discover common features. This initiative is a collaboration between several academic institutions across the world and is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Visit the website to explore the biology of this condition.


  1. Quereshi, Shahab. Klebsiella Infections. Medscape. December, 2018; https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/219907-overview.
  2. Bush, Larry and Perez, Maria. Klebsiella, Enterobacter, and Serratia Infections. Merck Manual Professional Version. April, 2018; https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/infectious-diseases/gram-negative-bacilli/klebsiella-,-enterobacter-,-and-serratia-infections.
  3. Bush, Larry. Klebsiella, Enterobacter, and Serratia Infections. Merck Manual Consumer Version. May, 2018; https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/infections/bacterial-infections-gram-negative-bacteria/klebsiella-,-enterobacter-,-and-serratia-infections.
  4. Wen-Liang, Yu and Chuang, Yin-Ching. Clinical features, diagnosis, and treatment of Klebsiella pneumoniae infection. UpToDate. May 18, 2017; https://www.uptodate.com/contents/clinical-features-diagnosis-and-treatment-of-klebsiella-pneumoniae-infection.

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