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Clin Microbiol Rev. 1998 Oct;11(4):589-603.

Klebsiella spp. as nosocomial pathogens: epidemiology, taxonomy, typing methods, and pathogenicity factors.

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Department of Medical Microbiology and Virology, University of Kiel, Kiel, Germany.


Bacteria belonging to the genus Klebsiella frequently cause human nosocomial infections. In particular, the medically most important Klebsiella species, Klebsiella pneumoniae, accounts for a significant proportion of hospital-acquired urinary tract infections, pneumonia, septicemias, and soft tissue infections. The principal pathogenic reservoirs for transmission of Klebsiella are the gastrointestinal tract and the hands of hospital personnel. Because of their ability to spread rapidly in the hospital environment, these bacteria tend to cause nosocomial outbreaks. Hospital outbreaks of multidrug-resistant Klebsiella spp., especially those in neonatal wards, are often caused by new types of strains, the so-called extended-spectrum-beta-lactamase (ESBL) producers. The incidence of ESBL-producing strains among clinical Klebsiella isolates has been steadily increasing over the past years. The resulting limitations on the therapeutic options demand new measures for the management of Klebsiella hospital infections. While the different typing methods are useful epidemiological tools for infection control, recent findings about Klebsiella virulence factors have provided new insights into the pathogenic strategies of these bacteria. Klebsiella pathogenicity factors such as capsules or lipopolysaccharides are presently considered to be promising candidates for vaccination efforts that may serve as immunological infection control measures.

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