Klebsiella pneumoniae is a well known human nosocomial pathogen. Most community-acquired K pneumoniae infections cause pneumonia or urinary tract infections. During the past two decades, however, a distinct invasive syndrome that causes liver abscesses has been increasingly reported in Asia, and this syndrome is emerging as a global disease. In this Review, we summarise the clinical presentation and management as well the microbiological aspects of this invasive disease. Diabetes mellitus and two specific capsular types in the bacterium predispose a patient to the development of liver abscesses and the following metastatic complications: bacteraemia, meningitis, endophthalmitis, and necrotising fasciitis. For patients with this invasive syndrome, appropriate antimicrobial treatment combined with percutaneous drainage of liver abscesses increases their chances of survival. Rapid detection of the hypervirulent strain that causes this syndrome allows earlier diagnosis and treatment, thus minimising the occurrence of sequelae and improving clinical outcomes.
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