Mycoplasma pneumoniae is a respiratory infection caused from a parasitic bacterium, sometimes called “walking pneumonia.” It is an invasion of the mucous membranes of the upper and lower respiratory tract. A mycoplasma is a bacteria that lacks a cell wall. They need a residence in a host organism for survival. The bacteria is spread through respiration and causes infections such as trachobronchitis and primary atypical pneumonia.
Mycoplasma is one of the most common causes of community-based pneumonia. It can occur at anytime of the year, but the larger outbreaks happen at the end of summer and the beginning of fall. Mycoplasma pneumoniae is a common cause of pneumonia, but only 5 to 10 percent infected actually develop pneumonia.
How Do People Get Mycoplasma Pneumoniae?
How do people get mycoplasma pneumoniae? It is spread through the contact of droplets from the nose and throat. Droplets are formed from actions such as coughing and sneezing. It is thought that prolonged contact with an infected person is needed for the transmission of mycoplasma pneumoniae. A person is usually contagious for 10 days; occasionally this period may be longer. People are considered to be at a higher risk for developing mycoplasma pneumoniae when they work or go to school in crowded places.
The Diagnosis of Mycoplasma Pneumoniae
A person is diagnosed with mycoplasma pneumoniae by the basis of their symptoms. A nonspecific blood test (cold agglutinins) can be helpful with the diagnosis. A serology test is usually positive after the fifth day of illness. This test can detect the presences of antibodies against a microorganism.
The use of more specific blood tests is often limited to special outbreak investigations.
Symptoms of mycoplasma pneumoniae include fever, cough, bronchitis, sore throat, headache, and tiredness. A common result is pneumonia; it is mild and rare that hospitalization is needed. Less common symptoms include abnormalities of liver function, nausea, diarrhea, rash, and infections of the middle ear (otitis media). Symptoms may persist, lasting up to a year.
The Treatment of Mycoplasma Pneumoniae
Several treatments are effective in reducing the length of illness due to mycoplasma pneumoniae.
An empiric antimicrobial therapy must be comprehensive and should cover all likely pathogens in the context of the clinical setting. In the treatment of mycoplasma pnemoniae. The antimicrobials are bacteriostatic, not bactericidal.
Erythromycin inhibits the growth of mycoplasma pneumoniae. It blocks the dissociation of peptidyl tRNA from ribosomes and causing RNA-dependent protein synthesis to arrest.
Azithromycin (Zithromax) is very effective and the most common agent used to treat mycoplasma pneumoniae. Doxycycline (Vibramycin) can be used to treat bacterial infections of both gram-positive and gram-negative organisms, as well as infections caused by mycoplasma. Doxycycline inhibits the bacterial protein synthesis by binding with the 30S subunit and possibly the 50S ribosomal subunit of susceptible bacteria. Azithromycin and doxycycline are as effective as erythromycin and other macrolides in the treatment of mycoplasma pneumoniae.
Up To Date: Mycoplasma Pneumoniae Infection in Adults - www.uptodate.com/patients/content/topic.do?topicKey=~71R7R6OeXis.pyE
Medline Plus: Mycoplasma Pneumoniae - www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000082.htm