According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Klebsiella pneumoniae is a gram-negative bacterium that is commonly found in the human digestive system. Though it lives harmlessly in human intestines, Klebsiella is capable of causing serious illnesses like pneumonia, infections in the blood and wound infections. Klebsiella also proves a common cause of urinary tract infections. Like many bacteria, Klebsiella has become resistant to some common antibiotic treatments.
Carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae
The CDC says that some Klebsiella strains have become resistant to carbapenem antibiotics, meaning these antibiotics won't work to kill the bacteria. Carbapenems are related to penicillin and often the last line of defense when someone has an infection. Bacteria resistant to carbapenems can become dangerous because other antibiotic options may not prove available for patients requiring treatment.
The University of California San Diego School of Medicine lists cephalosporin-type antibiotics as an option against Klebsiella. Third-generation cephalosporins are newer medications and often given by injection. Ceftriaxone--Rocephin, ceftazadime--Fortaz and cefepime--Maxipime, are examples of third-generation cephalosporins. Dr. James Rahal, in a 1998 Journal of the American Medical Association article, reports Klebsiella strains had become resistant to these antibiotics at that time as well.
Aminoglycosides like amikacin, tobramycin and gentamicin also treat Klebsiella infections. In an article from the American Society for Microbiology, Dr. Ling Ma reports 2009 study results that indicate Klebsiella may also have developed a resistance to this class of antibiotics.
The University of California at San Diego's Medical School lists fluoroquinolone antibiotics as a current option for Klebsiella treatment. This class of medications includes levafloxacin--Levaquin, ciprofloxacin--Cipro, gemifloxacin--Factive and others. The prescribing information for Levaquin indicates that physicians can use it to treat pneumonia and urinary tract infections caused by Klebsiella, while Factive can treat pneumonia.
Klebsiella resistance testing
When a patient has received a diagnosis with a Klebsiella infection, sensitivity testing is often performed to determine which antibiotics will prove useful against that particular strain of bacteria. This testing will also show which antibiotics the bacterial strain has developed resistance to, which helps guide health care providers in choosing the correct treatment.