Difference Between E. Coli and Klebsiella


Main Difference

The main difference between E Coli and Klebsiella is that E. Coli is a rod-shaped bacteria of the genus Escherichia whereas Klebsiella is the genus of the rod-shaped bacteria.

E. Coli vs. Klebsiella

E.coli is a rod-shaped, a facultative anaerobic, gram-negative and nonsporulating bacterium of the genus Escherichia with family Enterobacteriaceae whereas Klebsiella is a genus of rod-shaped, gram-negative facultative anaerobic, non-motile bacteria from family Enterobacteriaceae with a prominent polysaccharide capsule. Infections from E.coli can be prevented by practicing sanitary conditions in homes whereas prevention from Klebsiella infections can be possible by using hygienic settings in medical health care. Harmless strains of E. coli produce vitamin K and protect the intestine from pathogenic bacterial colonization whereas Klebsiella is found naturally in soil and fix nitrogen in anaerobic conditions and play an essential role in increasing harvest.


Comparison Chart

E. ColiKlebsiella
E. coli is the rod-shaped bacteria of the genus EscherichiaKlebsiella is the genus of the rod-shaped bacteria
Full Name
Escherichia coliKlebsiella pneumoniae
Rank in the Taxonomic Hierarchy
The microbiota of the lower intestine can be found in contaminated waterThe microbiota of the nose, mouth and gut, soil water, plants, and animals
2 µm0.5 to 5 µm
0.25 to 1.0 µm0.3 to 1.5 µm
Urinary tract gastroenteritis, hemorrhagic colitis, Crohn’s disease, neonatal meningitisUrinary tract infection, pneumonia meningitis, septicemia, Soft tissue infections, diarrhea,
Fecal-oral transmissionThrough contaminated equipment and skin
Vitamin K production, As a Probiotic, protection of intestine against pathogensNitrogen fixation
Incubation Period
3 to 4 days1 to 6 weeks
Sites of Target
Colon and urinary tractAlveoli of the lungs
Rest, hydration and antibioticsAminoglycosides, cephalosporin, and chloramphenicol

What is E. Coli?

E.coli is a part of the natural flora of human intestine which has different strains based on their genetic makeup and pathogenicity. Most strains are harmless to humans, but some are highly invasive with the potential of causing renal failure, anemia, and death. It may enter the human body through contaminated water and food with feces of an infected patient. For example, meat, milk, dairy products, and raw fruits and vegetables are more likely to get contaminated because of the unsanitary method of preparation. It may also spread through direct contact with the patients. E.coli infected patients experience signs of bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, loss of appetite and vomiting with fever. These symptoms appear after 2 to 3 days of infection. Patients with weak immunity, alcohol addicts, patients of diabetes mellitus and malignancies usually experience severe attacks. Doctors take a complete history from patients about the exposure with contaminated water or food, about travel history and contact with infected person. The doctor also assesses they elicit signs such as abdominal tenderness and then do stool test (stool culture to isolate E Coli). It is essential to carry out treatments immediately to relieve pain and replace fluid and electrolyte imbalance and then antibiotic therapy after confirmation. Untreated patients can end up in dehydration so high fluid intake is always recommended. Patients who are constantly passing out will be given IV fluid since the main relate is to prevent any shock from loss of fluid and electrolyte imbalance.

What is Klebsiella?

Klebsiella is a gram-negative bacteria which is non-motile, encapsulated and facultative anaerobic with a rod-like shape. It also can be able to ferment lactose on a medium of MacConkey agar. It is a part of the flora of oral cavity, skin, and colon but sometimes it causes pathological changes in the lungs during inhalation or aspiration. This is known as spread from one person to another person as nosocomial infections and quickly attack the lungs which result in blood mixed sputum in affected individuals.

Klebsiella infections usually occur in patients with a weak immune system with some sort of immune suppression. Some affected individuals fall into the category of old or middle-aged men with a debilitating illness such as chronic alcoholism, diabetes, COPD, liver disease and renal failure. Patients who are treated in an ICU setting are at high risk of getting infected by Klebsiella pneumonia, almost more than 30% of ICU deaths occur as a result of hospital-acquired pneumonia. Klebsiella also causes bronchopneumonia and bronchitis which leads to susceptibility to other lung conditions such as lung abscess, emphysema, cavity formation, and pleural adhesion. This can also result in thrombophlebitis, UTI, cholecystitis, upper RTIs, osteomyelitis, bacteremia, wound infections, meningitis and eventually end up in septicemia. Signs and symptoms of the patient’s Klebsiella infections may vary from person to person, and it depends on the primary pathology and strength of the immune system. The mortality rate is so high even with the antibiotics treatment.

Key Differences

  1. E Coli is species whereas Klebsiella is a genus.
  2. E Coli is present in contaminated water whereas Klebsiella is present soil, water, plants, and
  3. E Coli is present in the lower intestine in humans whereas Klebsiella is present in the mouth, nose, and gut of human beings.
  4. E Coli has dimensions: length 2.0µm and diameter 0.25µm to 1.0µm whereas Klebsiella has dimensions length 5 to 5.0µm and diameter 0.3 to 1.5µm.
  5. E Coli has fecal-oral as a source of transmission whereas Klebsiella is transmitted through the skin with invasive medical instruments.
  6. E Coli has an incubation period of 3 to 4 days whereas Klebsiella has an incubation period of 1 to 3 weeks.


In conclusion, both E.coli and Klebsiella cause some harms and some benefits for humans and belongs to the same family with some different characteristics.

Janet White

Janet White is a writer and blogger for Difference Wiki since 2015. She has a master's degree in science and medical journalism from Boston University. Apart from work, she enjoys exercising, reading, and spending time with her friends and family. Connect with her on Twitter @Janet__White