What Are Klebsiella Pneumoniae?

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By katherine
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One of the most abundant types of bacteria in the human body belongs to a class known as Klebsiella pneumoniae. It is commonly found in the intestines and feces, where it is relatively harmless in people with a healthy immune system. Up to one-third of all people have K. pneumoniae in their digestive tract. However, if it enters other parts of the body, severe infections can result.

Hospital settings are the most likely places to contract a K. pneumoniae infection. The widespread use of antibiotics in hospitals complicates treatment and helps contribute to antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Here are the answers to 10 common questions about Klebsiella pneumoniae infections, their symptoms and therapies used to treat them.

1. How Many Types of Klebsiella Pneumoniae Are There?

There are two distinct types of K. pneumoniae bacterium: those with capsules surrounding their cells and those without them. Non-encapsulated forms of the bacteria are not highly infectious and are unlikely to cause illness.

Within capsular Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria, there are more than 70 distinct subtypes. The capsule is made up of complex acidic polysaccharides that serve to protect the bacterium from natural immune responses. It also aids attachment to cellular structures within the body. These features work together to increase the bacterium’s pathogenicity.

Klebsiella Pneumoniae

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