Nine cases of Klebsiella were reported at Stanger Hospital at KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province in South Africa, resulting in the death of three newborns, according to health officials via a IOL report.

Klebsiella pneumoniae/CDC
Klebsiella pneumoniae/CDC

KZN Health spokesman Sam Mkhwanazi said, “The department is investigating whether the demise of three neonates out of the nine Klebsiella cases is directly linked to the bacterium as these were high-risk neonates.”

If the deaths are directly linked to the bacterium, it would be one of the deadliest outbreaks of Klebsiella since 2005, when 22 babies died at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Durban, the report notes.

A infection prevention team from Durban has been sent to Stanger Hospital to conduct an environmental and source detection.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Klebsiella is a type of Gram-negative bacteria that can cause different types of healthcare-associated infections, including pneumonia, bloodstream infections, wound or surgical site infections, and meningitis.

In healthcare settings, Klebsiella infections commonly occur among sick patients who are receiving treatment for other conditions. Patients whose care requires devices like ventilators (breathing machines) or intravenous (vein) catheters, and patients who are taking long courses of certain antibiotics are most at risk for Klebsiella infections.