Symptoms of Klebsiella Bacteria

Klebsiella bacterial infections cause symptoms that vary depending on the site of the infection. People often develop klebsiella infections because they have impaired immunity from being sick or required medical interventions. Mechanical ventilators, indwelling tubes that drain urine, burns and open wounds all favor the development of klebsiella infection. Symptoms include those of pneumonia, urinary tract infection and skin and soft tissue infections. They tend to develop in people who are hospitalized or being cared for in a long-term facility.

View of bacteria through a microscope. (Image: Nathan Lau / Design Pics/Valueline/Getty Images)


People are at risk of developing klebsiella pneumonia if they are diabetic, chronic alcoholics or have an underlying lung disease. Those who are living in long-term care facilities or are currently hospitalized and breathing with mechanical ventilators are at even higher risk of developing a lung infection from Klebsiella. The sudden onset of fever, fast and shallow breathing and an increasing amount of secretions in the breathing tube may herald the occurrence of pneumonia. If the infection extends to the tissues lining the surface of the lungs, they may also experience chest pain.

Urinary Tract Infections

Those with an infection from an indwelling urinary catheter -- a tube that drains urine from inside the body -- may experience high fever, lower abdominal pain, bloody urine, chills, back pains and vomiting. Because various organisms normally contaminate catheters without causing any symptoms, the laboratory identification of a significant number of bacteria is needed so appropriate antimicrobial treatment can be started.

Abdominal Infections

Abnormal collections of fluid within the organs in the abdomen may result from a variety of organisms, including the Klebsiella bacteria. Such infections produce symptoms such as fever, persistent abdominal pain, chills, nausea and vomiting. Prompt drainage of the fluid collection along with the administration of the appropriate antibiotics is necessary to treat the infection. Although these infections are often found in those with diabetes, young and healthy individuals have also been affected.

Surgical-Site and Soft-Tissue Infections

The longer the hospital stay and the longer the surgical procedure, the greater the risk of developing surgical wound infections. A surgical wound infection should be suspected if fever is accompanied by swelling and color changes or the sudden redness of the tissues surrounding a burn or post-operative wound. If you are obese or have diabetes, an ongoing infection nearby or some other medical condition that makes you susceptible to infections, you may notice nonhealing of your surgical wound even with antimicrobial treatment.


Because of the possibility of widespread infection with drug-resistant Klebsiella, a doctor should be consulted right away if symptoms do not improve after antibiotic treatment or if breathing difficulties, lethargy, altered behavior or changes in consciousness develop. These may indicate the onset of life-threatening widespread infections.

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