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Overview of Mycoplasma pneumoniae

The bacterium, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, is one of the smallest living organisms and cannot exist outside a host. It does not have the cell wall typical of other bacteria and is thus resistant to penicillin and other beta lactams whose effectiveness depends on their ability to disrupt bacterial cell walls.1

Infection with Mycoplasma

Mycoplasma infection is now recognized as one of the most common causes of community-acquired pneumonia in otherwise healthy patients younger than age 40. The bacteria attach to the surface of respiratory epithelial cells causing cell damage through the release of hydrogen peroxide or via an inflammatory response.

Mycoplasma pneumonia is community-acquired and termed, “atypical.” Disease is frequently mild and self-limiting.1 Hence infection is often called “walking pneumonia.” However more serious lower respiratory tract infection can occur and has been associated with the initiation or promotion of asthma.1

Epidemiology of Mycoplasma pneumonia

The exact extent of Mycoplasma infection is not known. Localized outbreaks do occur and estimates of the percentage of infection in community acquired pneumonia go as high as 40%.2 Highest prevalence of serious infection is among the young.3


Learn about diagnosing Mycoplasma infection


Selected Articles

Link arrow Mycoplasma Infections. Medscape. Emedicine.
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Link arrow Pneumonia, Mycoplasma. Emedicine.
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Link arrow Consensus guidelines on the management of community-acquired pneumonia in adults. Clin Infect Dis.
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