What is the mortality and morbidity of Mycoplasma infections (Mycoplasma pneumoniae)?

Updated: Feb 15, 2019
  • Author: Ken B Waites, MD; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Answer

As the term walking pneumonia implies, the great majority of M pneumoniae respiratory tract infections are mild and self-limited, although administration of antimicrobials hastens clinical resolution. Hospitalization is sometimes necessary, but recovery is almost always complete and without sequelae. Studies have indicated that M pneumoniae is second only to Streptococcus pneumoniae as a cause of bacterial pneumonia that requires hospitalization in elderly adults. [9] Subclinical infections may occur in 20% of adults infected with M pneumoniae, suggesting that some degree of immunity may contribute to the failure of clinical symptoms in some instances. [1]

Recent evidence suggests that M pneumoniae disease is sometimes much more severe than appreciated, even in otherwise healthy children and adults. [6] Severe disease is more common in persons with underlying disease or immunosuppression. Detection of CARDS toxin or antitoxin antibodies in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid obtained from persons with suspected ventilator-associated pneumonias in association with prolonged ventilator course and hypoxemia suggest this organism may be of considerable significance among trauma patients in intensive care units. [2]

Children with sickle cell disease and functional asplenia may be at greater risk for severe respiratory tract disease due to M pneumoniae. While reports describe fatal cases of mycoplasmal pneumonia, the overall mortality rate is extremely low, probably less than 0.1%.


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