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How to Treat a Serratia Marcescens Infection

Updated February 21, 2017

Susceptibility to the serratia marcescens bacterium usually causes an upper respiratory tract infection, a urinary tract infection, meningitis, a cerebral abscess, intra-abdominal infection, osteomyelitis and arthritis, endocarditis, an eye infection, skin and soft tissue infection, ear infection, and/or parotitis, according to eMedicine.com. If a doctor suspects that a patient is infected, a complete blood count workup may be ordered along with any necessary cultures, a possible spinal tap and imaging studies like X-rays or CAT scans. Cultures are the only way to positively identify the presence of the organism, however. Once confirmed, serratia marcescens may be treated by any number of antibiotics.

Contact your physician to learn the results of your bacteria workup. If you are hospitalised for severe infection, it is more than likely that you will have already begun receiving antibiotics intravenously to begin the healing process before organism confirmation is received from the lab. With the confirmation of serratia marcescens, some antibiotics may be stopped or you may be asked to stop taking a previous prescription. Serratia marcescens is resistant to the effects of the following antibiotics: first-generation cephalosporins, ampicillin and macrolides. In Taiwan, specifically, the bacteria are resistant to cefotaxime.

Take your antibiotic as prescribed. The length of time and the amount of drug to be consumed will be conditions of the severity of the infection. Levofloxacin and ciprofloxacin are the only oral antibiotics that sucessfully kill serratia marcescens. They are normally prescribed as a 500mg pill to be taken by mouth once or twice a day. So severe is the bacteria, however, that it usually results in diseases that cause patients to be hospitalised. The rest of the effective antibiotics for this organism are given intravenously or by intramuscular injection for days to weeks at a time. These antibiotics are cefepime or maxipime, ertapenem or nvanz, amikacin or amikin, aztreonam or azactam, meropenem, and imipenem-cilastatin, also referred to as primaxin.

Drink fluids to prevent dehydration. Avoid tap water when taking oral antibiotics. Get rest. Ask your doctor for a time off from work request form if needed. Wash your hands often, especially after contact with bodily fluids, to prevent the spread of infection. Follow up with your doctor as recommended. Some of the same workup tests may be performed again to confirm healing and ensure that the organism is no longer active in your body.

Things You'll Need

  • Physician
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About the Author

Sarah McLeod began writing professionally for the federal government In 1999. In 2002 she was trained by Georgetown University's Oncology Chief to abstract medical records and has since contributed to Phase I through Phase IV research around the country. McLeod holds a Bachelor of Arts in human services from George Washington University and a Master of Science in health science from Touro University.