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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%.

57 Responses to Serratia Marcescens Symptoms

  • MC Kerr says:

    I’ve been living with my mother-in-law for 5 years and have noticed that the water in her house leaves pink/reddish stains on moist areas. I have brought up the subject with the whole family and they insist that it’s not a problem since their plumber said it’s not harmful.

    1. My mother in law suffers from horrible allergies to just about everything, is often sick, has UTI’s on a frequent basis, gets infected cysts, thyroid and hypothyroid problems, and much more.

    2. My husband suffers from bad sinus congestion and bad seasonal allergies (as well as food allergies). He is congested all the time.

    3. Since moving into their house my Granuloma Annulare has exploded and spread all over my body (before it was just on my ankles). I am perpetually fatigued. I have developed Psoriasis on my scalp (and have a lot of hair falling out), and severely dry skin. Also all my food allergies have become exacerbated.

    All these things COULD be coincidential – but could any of these issues be due to the exposure to Serratia Marcescenes?

    Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

  • Tanya Taylor says:

    One year ago my brother’s leg was operated on for what they thought was osteomyelitis. The leg that was operated on had been placed back together with metal & screws due to a motorcycle accident in 2009. Christmas 2015 he got to where he had lost a lot of weight & couldn’t apply pressure to his leg, fevered and weak. Ended up the 1st surgery his leg was opened up and 3” of bone was taken out of his femur and sent off for testing. Then there was a second surgery along with IV antibiotics to get the infection under control. He ended up with rods & a halo on his leg. Then a third surgery was done, and they drove a rod through his bone to hold it together. He was told that he has to take antibiotics for the rest of his life. He is only 34 years old now. My questions are how long can a person survive with S. Marcences? If they do not take their antibiotics right what can happen? I am trying so hard to help my brother & really don’t know what to do or how to.
    Any knowledge would be greatly appreciated.

    • DeadlyMicrobes says:

      Tanya, your brother is lucky to have you. The infection can be recurring due to your brother’s exposure to the bacteria. I would recommend staying on the prescription while trying to find a possible source. If you can find and remove the bacteria, the infection may not come back. The doctor would then give him a clean bill of health. But please make sure he doesn’t stop taking meds until the doctor ok’s it.

  • Alex says:

    I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 4 years ago. I performed several tests at that time, looking for a case, but nothing was found.

    A week ago tests found Serratia marcescens. Now I take antibiotics. I hope it will treat not just my chronic cough but Fatigue also.

    • DeadlyMicrobes says:

      Serratia bacteria is transmissible and if the bacteria enters the body through an open cut in the skin or otherwise ingested, then an infection can occur.

  • Blessing Ugwu says:

    I tested positive positive of sessatia marcescens after sputum taste. Am a nursing mother, my baby is ten months old. I use to cough out tick mucus from my throat. Will by baby contact it through inhalation?

  • Florence B Sage says:

    My aide had serratia 2 years ago that stemmed from a kidney infection. It attached itself to her spine & ate 2 vertebrae, requiring surgery & metal bars, screws & a box of cadiva bones. She continues to have fevers up to 103.2 & becomes very listless during these times. She takes an antibiotic & may have to take it the rest of her life. My question is: Is she contagious. She was septic while in the hospital, but she now says she in not contagious. Is it possible that she could be contagious as it is still in her blood?

    • DeadlyMicrobes says:

      Hi Florence, Sorry for you and your aide. If the bacteria is active, it can be transmitted from one person to another. Whether or not you can be infected is another story. Since she has medical professionals available I suggest you ask their opinion about the chance of infection in this case.

  • Atyra says:

    My mother has recencently developed congestion, a fever, and a sore throat. I went in to the restroom and spayed bleach and a pink/red color apppered around the sink. It’s slowly fades away as the bleach drys but, is still visible. I also have a 1 year old sister with congestion.

    • DeadlyMicrobes says:

      Do you have a bathroom fan to draw air out? Besides fully cleaning the area, you need to make sure it stays dry.

  • Terri Paich says:

    I got serratia marcescens one year after my shoulder replacement. I had to do 6 weeks of iv antibiotics and they took out replacement and put a temporary spacer in. I got through my antibiotics then had a new replacement put in 6 weeks ago and I am afraid the serratia marcescens will come back
    Every since I got on the antibiotics to clear it I have diahreea and I have indigestion problems. I have COPD and rheumatoid arthritis. Should I be worried

    • DeadlyMicrobes says:

      It is very difficult to kill the bacteria once you’ve been infected. Is it possible the symptoms you have are from the meds you’re taking for COPD and arthritis? If you have concerns that Serratia infection is recurring, please see your doctor.

  • Marilou says:

    HI..My 17 year old male has complex Hydrocephalus. He has 2 vp shunts. he was admitted with a collection on Abdo ct. Surgery was performed and they externalized the shunt from abdo. Hhe had a catheter, a tummy tube from his nose and ICP catheter, a catheter/ The General Surgeon found crazy creeping fat and some infection. Aurleis. It was also seen in brain. A week later, and TPN, the neurosurgeon had to remove 5 old catheters form his brain. He then had an EVD, I should say 2 beuase his ventricles do not communicate. They treated the Aurleius positive ( sp) with Clox and on day 9 post externalization the neurosurgeon was ready to replace ethe permanent shunt. ID requested he wait for another 7 days. Well, he did so reluctantly, and on day 7 Serratia was found in csf. Once they started treating the Serratia, all his tummy problems went away. Tonight I refused to sign the consent to internalize the permanent shunt because it has only been a week sine they changed the EVD’s. I believe it came for tummy yet Neurosurgeon says it was a contaminate isn the EVD. They left an old tube in tummy so I wonder if the serratia tracked. He was very symptomatic, with chillks and hallucinations, vomiting and headache, but they did not do a blood culture. Is one week enough? Thank you so much. I will not rest until I know if the old tube in tummy is the source. Thankyou soo much!!!!

    • DeadlyMicrobes says:

      You really need to rely on the advice of the medical professionals you’re working with. Diagnosing these infections properly require it. Treating the infection can only be done by medical professionals.

  • Tom says:

    Hi. I’ve noticed that in my Brita water pitcher in the top reservoir a pink slime will form after a short while. Based on what I have read it seems it is Serratia Marcescens. This will form no matter how clean I keep the pitcher or if I keep it in the refrigerator. It always returns. I’ve read different opinions about it in terms of how pathogenic it is. Some say it is relatively harmless and others say it is not harmless.

    My question is do you think it is safe to drink water that has this in it and is it safe to continue using a filter that is likely contaminated with it once is forms in the water reservoir since it will be heading into the filter and I imagine water?

    I do feel better drinking bottled water versus the Brita and I just wanted to get an opinion about it from someone knowledgeable. Thanks!

    • DeadlyMicrobes says:

      Make sure to clean and sterilize the water filter and container. Let it dry for several days before using it again.

  • Denise says:

    I have a boil under my arm….they tested it and it came back Serratia Marcescens….I have them quite often and never have I had them cultured….I was put on Cipro to treat it….Now what? #scared

    • DeadlyMicrobes says:

      Hi Denise, ciprofloxacin is a common treatment for serratia. It has a relatively low resistance rate to the serratia bacteria. Treatment is dependent on medical history and current medical situation, so your doctor may change the prescription if the cipro isn’t working.

  • Tricia Wyjad says:

    Hi, my husband has been diagnosed with serratia m. after having a metal plate and screws put in to repair a broken clavicle. He has been on long term antibiotics, approximately five months on and off. Doc just stopped meds to see if the infection returns but they had first told us the organism would live on the plate and resist rx. I’m concerned about effects of long term antibiotics and also wondering what sx we should watch for related to the bacteria. Thanks

  • Jay says:

    Two years ago had pink semen and diagnosed with serratia took antibiotics for 6 weeks and it cleared. A few months ago I went to doc I wanted to get checked did a culture and it popped up again and he said that if I don’t have symptoms to not worry about it, what do u suggest?

    • DeadlyMicrobes says:

      I’m not sure what your doc means about “symptoms” .. ? Did you have some kind of pain or other symptoms before? Regardless, any body fluid that is discolored in a patient with history is a reason for concern. Seek a second opinion.

  • Victoria says:

    I am a 58 year old woman and I’ve had three Serratia M. positive UTIs in a year. All infections were spaced apart over several months. I’m not diabetic, I’ve had no surgery or instrumentation.

    Thank you in advance for any information you can provide.

    Victoria

    • DeadlyMicrobes says:

      I suggest you keep working with your doctor and look at environmental issues for the source of the bacteria. Is there any standing water in your bathroom, kitchen or any dampness and mold in the attic or basement? Bird baths, flower pots or other containers with pooled water may contain the bacteria.

  • Michelle says:

    I have a Brita water filter and have noticed some pink bacteria growing on the inside a few times. I have not felt 100% in a couple of months and the last few days have had a bit of vertigo. Should I be worried that I have a serratia marcescens infection???

    • DeadlyMicrobes says:

      Maybe. Please go to the doctor with your symptoms. Clean the brita and let it fully dry out for a number of days. Remember that containers full of water exposed to sunlight are a breeding ground for bacteria. Cleaning often and emptying the water are good practice.

  • Jennifer says:

    I am noticing that Serratia Marcescens infections are commonly contracted through hospital stays or procedures, but I am not finding much information about what to expect if you accidentally ingest this bacteria if it is growing on food. I am concerned because my husband tasted some mozzarella cheese that had turned orange and dry (we have since discussed why that was a bad idea). All the info I can find on orange mozzarella is that it is mold and likely Serratia Marcescens, but not what to do or expect if a small amount is ingested. Is this something like botulism where even a taste is deadly, or is this more like standard food poisoning where a healthy adult can ride it out without a hospital stay?

  • 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:

    Hello,

    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?
    Thanks.

    • 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.

    • Adrienne says:

      Leanne I have your same symptoms without a dignosis. I have kidney disease had stints every few months as well as a bladder stint. Underwent an operation on the Ureater & have now been having constant infections, discharge, blood in the Urine etc. I am now unable to control bladder output which I find to be humiating. Odiferous Mucus etc.
      I am allergic to Iodine and Renographin Dye is out, yet this Dr is insisting he must use it. I explained the allergy is anaphylaxis & my heart stopped. He still wants to use it.
      I am quite frightened re: what I should do. I see my Nephrologist in Boston it the end of June. The long wait between appointments and getting meaningful help is frustrating.

      • DeadlyMicrobes says:

        Adrienne, please talk to your allergist and then get a second opinion about the kidney disease diagnosis.

  • 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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