Canis ISSN: 2398-2942

Klebsiella pneumoniae

Synonym(s): K. pneumoniae

Contributor(s): Susan Dawson, Richard Walker




  • Family: Enterobacteriaceae.
  • Genus: Klebsiella.
  • Species: pneumoniae.


  • Klebsiella: named after T A E Klebs (1834-1913) - German bacteriologist.
  • pneumoniae: Gk: pneuma - wind, breath.

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Clinical Effects



  • Widespread in environment.
  • Colonizes mucous membranes, especially of gastrointestinal and urogenital tracts.


  • Direct or indirect contact.
  • Many infections endogenous.
  • Surgical wounds may be infected.

Pathological effects

  • Opportunistic infections develop at immunocompromised sites.
  • Endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide) consists of polysaccharide antigens and Lipid A, the toxic moiety → internaizsed by host cells → stimulates secretion of inflammatory mediators → endotoxemia.
  • Some strains produce exotoxins.
  • K. pneumoniae is a common cause of nosocomial infections.
  • Dogs: associated with urinary tract infections Cystitis , hepatic infections (hepatic abscesses; cholangiohepatitis Liver: cholangiohepatitisLiver: chronic hepatitis and pyometra Pyometra. Nosocomial infections often involve infection of surgical wounds.
  • Cats: urinary tract infections and other opportunistic infections.
  • Horses: associated with placentitis, metritis, peritonitis and cholangiohepatitis.
  • Cattle: mastitis; associated with bedding on sawdust.

Other Host Effects

  • May colonize mucous membranes of healthy individuals, particularly in gastrointestinal and urogenital tracts.
  • May be cultured from lungs of healthy dogs.


Control via animal

  • Hygiene, especially in veterinary hospital environment.
  • Appropriate treatment of wounds and surgical incisions.
  • Avoid prophylactic antibiotics if possible.
  • Uterine swabs and semen samples to detect infected animals.

Control via chemotherapies

  • Antibiotic susceptibility testing should be carried out; transferable resistance (carried by R plasmids) is common, eg to gentamicin.
  • Uniformly resistant to ampicillin Ampicillin.

Control via environment

  • Hygiene, especially in veterinary hospitals.
  • Susceptible to common disinfectants.


  • None available.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Farrar E T, Washabau R J & Saunders H M (1996) Hepatic abscesses in dogs - 14 cases (1982-1994). JAVMA 208 (2), 243-247 PubMed.
  • Forrester S D, Rogers K S & Relford R L (1992) Cholangiohepatitis in a dog. JAVMA 200 (11), 1704-1706 PubMed.