Which species of Klebsiellae are pathogenic in humans?

Updated: Jun 10, 2019
  • Author: Shahab Qureshi, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Answer

Three species in the genus Klebsiella are associated with illness in humans: Klebsiella pneumoniae, Klebsiella oxytoca, and Klebsiella granulomatis. Organisms previously known as Klebsiella ozaenae and Klebsiella rhinoscleromatis are considered nonfermenting subspecies of K pneumoniae that have characteristic clinical manifestations. With those exceptions, strains within this genus ferment lactose, most produce highly mucoid colonies on plates because of the production of a luxuriant polysaccharide capsule, and all are nonmotile. [1] In recent years, klebsiellae have become important pathogens in nosocomial infections. [2] See the image below.

This scanning electron micrograph (SEM) reveals so This scanning electron micrograph (SEM) reveals some of the ultrastructural morphologic features of Klebsiella pneumoniae. Courtesy of CDC/Janice Carr.

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