How to Treat a Serratia Marcescens Infection

Written by sarah mcleod
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How to Treat a Serratia Marcescens Infection
Often contracted in hospitals, serratia marcescens infection can lead to potentially fatal diseases. (hospital surgery operating room image by alma_sacra from Fotolia.com)

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.

Skill level:
Easy

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Instructions

  1. 1

    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.

  2. 2

    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.

  3. 3

    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.

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