Mycoplasma pneumoniae can cause multiple disorders, including pharyngitis, otitis media, tracheobronchitis, pneumonia, endocarditis, nephritis, encephalitis, meningitis, optic neuritis, and facial nerve palsy; it has also been implicated in some cases of chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia syndromes. Serious M pneumoniae infections requiring hospital admission can occur in both adults and children and may involve multiple organ systems. Recent evidence suggests that M pneumoniae may play a contributory role in chronic lung disorders such as asthma.
PCR assays have been adapted for the direct detection of M pneumoniae organisms, but in clinical practice, sensitive serologic tests are usually used initially to detect antibodies. Since mycoplasma lack a cell wall, they are unaffected by antibiotics that target cell wall synthesis.
Initial treatment of M pneumoniae infections typically involves use of a macrolide, tetracycline, or fluoroquinolone.
Atkinson TP, Balish MF, Waites KB. Epidemiology, clinical manifestations, pathogenesis and laboratory detection of Mycoplasma pneumoniae infections. FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2008;32(6):956–973.
Excerpted from BCSC 2020-2021 series: Section 1 - Update on General Medicine. For more information and to purchase the entire series, please visit https://www.aao.org/bcsc.