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Hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae

SUMMARYHypervirulent K. pneumoniae (hvKp) is an evolving pathotype that is more virulent than classical K. pneumoniae (cKp). hvKp usually infects individuals from the community, who are often healthy. Infections are more common in the Asian Pacific Rim but are occurring globally. hvKp infection frequently presents at multiple sites or subsequently metastatically spreads, often requiring source control. hvKp has an increased ability to cause central nervous system infection and endophthalmitis, which require rapid recognition and site-specific treatment. The genetic factors that confer hvKp’s hypervirulent phenotype are present on a large virulence plasmid and perhaps integrative conjugal elements. Increased capsule production and aerobactin production are established hvKp-specific virulence factors. Similar to cKp, hvKp strains are becoming increasingly resistant to antimicrobials via acquisition of mobile elements carrying resistance determinants, and new hvKp strains emerge when extensively drug-resistant cKp strains acquire hvKp-specific virulence determinants, resulting in nosocomial infection. Presently, clinical laboratories are unable to differentiate cKp from hvKp, but recently, several biomarkers and quantitative siderophore production have been shown to accurately predict hvKp strains, which could lead to the development of a diagnostic test for use by clinical laboratories for optimal patient care and for use in epidemiologic surveillance and research studies.

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