News and Information on Infectious Disease

Serratia Marcescens symptoms are very similar regardless of what disease the bacterium causes. Some common diseases include Serratia Sepsis, Serratia plymuthica, Serratia liquefaciens, Serratia rubidaea, Serratia odorifera, and Serratia fonticola.

Serratia marcescens is normally associated with nosocomial infections like catheter-associated bacteremia. In hospitalized adults, it is very common in urinary tract infections and sometimes in wound infections. Diagnosis in children often find the disease in the gastrointestinal system. Most in-hospital cases of Serratia marcescens involve newborn infants, people suffering from immunodeficiency, patients with widespread cancer throughout the body, leukaemia, or other serious chronic disease, and those with chronic neurological and urological issues are at greater risk than other patients.

Serratia Marcescens Symptoms: Serratia Sepsis

Common symptoms in patients suffering from Serratia Sepsis include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Respiratory distress
  • Shock

Fever is one of the most common causes of bacterial infection and should be treated immediately. In one rare case a 103° fever resulted in spontaneous abortion of an otherwise healthy fetus. The only other symptom of the mother was a general feeling of malaise.

Serratia Marcescens symptoms are commonly associated with urinary tract infections, but in 30% to 50% of reported cases, there are no symptoms to assist diagnosis. serratia marcescens symptoms
In cases where serrtia marcescens symptoms are observed, they include fever, frequent urination and pain during urination. In almost all cases of urinary tract infection, there was recent instrumentation of the urinary tract. Examples of such cases include treatment of urinary tract obstruction, renal failure and inspection of the urinary tract in diabetes patients.

Serratia Marcescens is also commonly found in respiratory tract infection. Here it can occur after some form of instrumentation associated with a hospital or doctor visit like ventilation or bronchoscopy. It is most common in patients with COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In very rare cases, pneumonia may occur.

child_with_s_marcescens_urinary_tract_infectionPremature children and infants with an existing diagnosis of sepsis, or after experiencing some kind of head surgery or neurosurgery may develop meningitis caused by Serratia Marcescens with symptoms including headache, fever, vomiting, stupor and may result in coma.

Serratia Marcescens is a particularly deadly bacteria, especially among drug abusers and addicts. In heroin addicts, the bacteria may cause endocarditis, which is inflammation of the heart wall linings, with symptoms including abnormal urine color, chills, excessive sweating, fatigue, fever, and joint pain. Mortality rate for these patients is very high.

For patients with Serratia Marcescens related bloodstream problems, the mortality rate is 26%.

28 Responses to Serratia Marcescens Symptoms

  • Wanda says:

    I have psoriasis so leaves my skin open to infections. I have been covered in sores that are extremely painful. I had asked the doctor to do a biopsy several times since this isn’t typical for my psoriasis and wouldn’t clear, even had an infection in my scalp that was seeping fluid. No biopsy was done and I was told it was nothing. Recently I found a Culligan whole house filter my ex husband had put on outside where the water comes in to the house-he left almost four years ago, the filter in it was red/pink. Is it possible this is that bacteria and it is infecting my skin? I just changed the filter. Not sure what to do from here.

    • DeadlyMicrobes says:

      Hi Wanda, It is peculiar that a doctor would say an infection is nothing to worry about. We would at least expect the doctor to give you antibiotic to help with the sores on your scalp.

      Now that you found the old filter and replaced it, the problems may have been resolved now. Besides waiting a few weeks to see if things clear up, you could take your water to be tested. Check with your local city or county water treatment facility to get the water tested.

      Please let us now how things progress.

  • Theresa says:


    My step son, who is five, was treated for ringworm on his scalp. After taking oral medication for 2 months his scalp seemed to get worse (large nodules developed – – almost like cystic acne with white flakes like dandruff) . He was referred to a dermatologist by his pediatrician who scraped his scalp. The results came back that it was serratia. He was given a course of antibiotic, which he finished. However, the nodules/scabs are still on his scalp. He had a follow up appointment with the dermatologist today who believes the bacteria came from our dogs. She gave him another ten day course of antibiotics. Neither dogs show any symptoms of fungal or bacterial infections. As a precaution we took them to the vet to get on antifungal medication. Does this diagnosis sound right? Could the nodules /scabs on his head be from serratia?

    • DeadlyMicrobes says:

      Hi Theresa, Can you clarify if the dogs were examined by the veterinarian before you determined they had no fungal or bacterial infection? It could be possible that the ringworm, which is a fungal infection was contracted from your dogs and the serratia came afterwards – through the sores on your stepson’s scalp. Once the bacteria are in the lesions, they could be very difficult to manage and the ringworm medication may have no effect on the serratia – giving the bacteria up to two months before detection.

      If that’s the case, you need to find the source of the serratia while the doctors treat with antibiotics. It’s possible the serratia came from the dogs even if there are no visible signs of infection. Enterobacterial infections (infection of the digestive tract or other organs) from Serratia is common. Please update on what the vet’s diagnosed. And it’s a good idea to remove any standing water on countertops or near sinks and faucets, even if it’s not the source of the serratia bacteria. If you use pump-type soap dispensers, either thoroughly clean them and let them dry out or replace them regularly.

      Please keep us informed of your stepson’s progress.

      • Theresa says:

        Hello again,

        Thank you so much for your response. We took the dogs to the vet after his last dermatology appointment, so on February 24th. The vet did a thorough physical exam on both of our dogs and also used a black light to check them for mites. She found no signs of a fungal or bacterial infection on either dog. She advised us against putting the dogs on any anti-fungal medication because of the damage the medication could cause on their liver. However, as a precaution she did prescribe an antifungal and antibacterial shampoo for the dogs, which is to be used once a week. Since Serratia can come from the dogs even if there are no visible signs of infection on them, would you recommend me taking them back to the vet and asking for some kind of medication? We assumed my stepson’s ringworm came from daycare, but we are totally confused about the serratia. Thank you again for your prompt response and advice.

        • DeadlyMicrobes says:

          Hi Theresa, It’s great that you’re making progress. If we were in your shoes, we would first make sure the sores on your stepson’s head are clearing up. If not, take him to your family doctor and advise about the results from the dermatologist’s test. If you’re concerned about the dogs, then it’s always prudent to have a doctor (or veterinarian in this case) review the test results and check the dogs further.

          Remember that your stepson’s test could have been contaminated with Serratia from some external source, so you may not find exactly where it came from. For that reason it’s more important to remove standing water, clean the areas where the dogs eat and sleep, and maintain good overall health for your family and your pets.

          • Theresa says:

            Thank you for your response. I just wanted to provide you all with an update. My step-son finished his antibiotics and we have been using the prescribed ketoconazole shampoo on him. He had his follow up dermatology appointment today and they said his scalped looked really good, and the scabs/sores have healed. I guess it took some time for the antibiotics and shampoo to work. Thank you so much for your advice and help! I really appreciate it.

  • Jessica says:

    mother is in Baylor with pulmonary hypertension and she’s been having fever throwing up she thought she had the flu but it came that she had this I meet her heart rate goes 163 all her stuff is just going crazy she has a fever of 103.8 it goes down then it comes back we want to know what is the outlook for her because the doctors are not saying nothing

    • DeadlyMicrobes says:

      Hi Jessica, High fever and vomiting are common symptoms of bacterial infection as the patient’s immune system fights to gain control. It’s likely the doctors are unsure of how your mother is reacting to her medications because there are so many factors involved in treatment. They’re probably concerned about giving some guidance and have your mother’s condition completely change the next day.

      Please remember that any doctor would understand if you asked for a detailed explanation of the treatment plan. We recommend you ask the doctors to explain the treatment plan with you and your mother. If you’re still unsure, they can probably arrange for a second opinion at the same hospital. It’s not a good idea to move her if she’s not stable. Please keep us informed.

  • Michelle Alquist says:

    I have had 2 stents placed into my ureter for an occlusion. Now I have a nephrostomy tube into that kidney to drain it. About 2 days after it was placed I started not feeling well and had yellow puss coming from my tube insertion site. I showed my Dr at an appt 1 week after it was placed he told me that was normal. He did not do any test on the urine from that tube. But he did but me on a 5 day dose of keflex. A week later I went to see his partner because he is gone for 2 weeks and that dr took a sample out of the bag and that is when I was diagnosed with Serratia marcescens. The day that I find this out they are wanting to do an exploration of the ureter by putting dye in the tube and dye up from the bottom of the ureter. They want to see how long the occlusion is. I guess I will find out if this is safe or not.

    • DeadlyMicrobes says:

      Thank you for sharing Michelle. Unfortunately it’s not uncommon to contract Serratia during a hospital visit for urinary tract surgery. Even placing a stent can allow bacteria to infect the incision. I suggest you question your regular doctor as to his misdiagnosis of the puss as “normal”. Some weeping from the incision would be expected, but incisions near stents are difficult to keep clean and infections should be taken seriously.

      Please keep us updated on your situation.

  • leanne says:

    Hi I have recently been diagnosed with serratia marcescens in my cervix after suffering with abdominal pain, passing blood in my urine, low iron and tiredness. I have not received any treatment yet as doctors don’t no why its there. I am worried. Is this dangerous?

    • DeadlyMicrobes says:

      Hi Leanne, Please get a second opinion and find a hospital with experience in infectious care. If you have been properly diagnosed, there are options for treatment that your doctor can provide. Serratia Marcenscens can be fatal in some cases, and the National Institutes of Health recently published a study which found a mortality rate of 39%. However most deaths occured due to septic shock from the infection which can be eliminated or controlled with proper, timely treatment.

      Again, please find a doctor who you trust and who knows how to treat this infection.

  • Maria Mccormack says:

    I was just diagnosed with serrita. I was diagnosed with beast cancer on September of 2012. I had 5 surgeries since September 2012. Today i learned that my infection is caused by serrita. I am at the hospital and they haven’t found the source of the infection or the medicine to treated. What should I do?

    • DeadlyMicrobes says:

      Maria, you need to have confidence in your doctor and the hospital. If you don’t … seek a second opinion. We’re a little confused as to what you mean by “my infection”. If the infection recently popped up, you should know that people sometimes contract serratia marcescens from improperly cleaned hospital instruments or poor sterilization methods in the operating room.

      As to what you should do .. you’re on the right track. Read, learn more about treatment options and be prepared when your doctor recommends treatment.

  • Marguerite Kuhn says:

    I recently submitted my sputum for a C&S and returned positive with an abundance of serratia marcescene. I am planning to go for pan culturing as I suspect all systems are affected based on my longstanding symptoms, afebrile though.
    I am post op one year now and post frontline chemo.
    Consider buying Avelox , one of the sensitive agents per the C&S panel. would prefer the beta lactam, must wait until my insurance kicks in to see an ID MD.
    Do I have to worry about vectoring ? how contagious is this microbe, I live currently with my 90 year old mother , a sister with three cats.
    Any advise will be helpful, thank you.

  • Samantha says:

    Hi! We’ve been staying in a motel the past few weeks because of career training. I’ve noticed that the provided hand towels have been mysteriously getting these bright pink stains on them the longer we use them. It’s been weirding me out so I’ll usually discard it and then we get new ones from the front desk. I was looking online about what could be causing this and came across this article. Do you think the bright pink stains are from this bacteria? Could it be caused by our soap or even our toothpaste (from the peroxide)? I’d appreciate a response because I don’t want our family to be exposed to this! Thanks so much!

    • DeadlyMicrobes says:

      Hi Samantha, I’m sorry you had to deal with that while out of town – that certainly makes things tougher. It’s very difficult to diagnose a situation like that … there are many variables. You are on the right track to replace the towels often and I would also suggest using anti-bacterial wipes instead. You might also ask others at the training if they’re experiencing the same problem. And bring it to the attention of the hotel management.

      It’s unlikely that the bacteria would survive the heat applied by the dryers used to launder the towels. It is possible, but given the consistency of this problem I believe there might be some other reaction occurring.

  • cathy varney says:

    i had lung lobectomy for cancer in 2011….I developed this infection Serratia Marcescens along with enterococcus and was back in the hospital for 8 days….very many antibiotic drips and a wound vac as well as going home with a wound vac and an in home nurse coming in 3 x’s a week for 3 weeks? it was very serious…..can this micro organism ever come back on me?

  • grace says:

    My mother has serratia marcescent in her sputum, but she dont have fever or indication of infection. Should she treat with antibiorics?

    • DeadlyMicrobes says:

      Please take anyone exhibiting signs of infection to a doctor or emergency room. Don’t try to diagnose or treat at home.

  • Eugenia Cortes says:

    My niece is 1 month old and her and my sister in law have been diagnosed with Serratia. My sister in law did had fever but the baby has no symptoms and she doesn’t have the bacteria in her blood only on her saliva both of them have been taking antibiotics but the babies diapers still turn pink, and the bottles still turn pink. Any idea why the antibiotics aren’t working and is it dangerous for the baby? Please let me know.

  • Linda K says:

    Have been told by the Environmental Services department of our water supplier that this is an airborne bacteria and to use a 1% chlorine bleach solution to remove from toilets showers, etc. We have a nasty taste to our tap water. Does anyone know if a whole house filter would eliminate this problem>

    • DeadlyMicrobes says:

      A micro filter will not kill bacteria. It is essentially a tight knit fabric or paper that traps solids but bacteria are microscopic and will pass through the filter. The only way to clean tap water is to boil for at least 4 minutes or use chlorine to purify.

  • Dr.Sujit kumar saha says:

    A 26 year male admitted under me with fever,chill,intense headache, occassional vomiting,jaundice for 6days.Not associated with cough,respiratory distress,pain in abdomen.Not complaining of any urinary symtoms Not immnocompromised nor iv drug addict.Not catheterised.Urinary culture shows florid growth of seretia marcescens.

    This is actually an uncommon community acquired seretia related uti.

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