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5 Facts You Need to Know about Mycoplasma pneumoniae

December 12, 2023

In recent times, there has been a notable increase in cases of pediatric pneumonia linked to Mycoplasma pneumoniae (MP) in several countries, including China, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and specific regions in the United States. This rise has raised concerns on a global scale. Although MP is known to cause occasional outbreaks, experts believe that the current increase may be more significant than usual, particularly in Europe and Asia, where reported cases have quadrupled compared to previous years.


In order to understand what MP is all about, here are 5 facts listed below.


1. MP infections typically present with mild symptoms such as low-grade fever, dry cough, mild shortness of breath (especially during physical activity), and fatigue.


The symptoms of Mycoplasma pneumonia (MP) differ from those caused by typical pneumonia bacteria like Streptococcus and Haemophilus. MP infections generally do not exhibit severe shortness of breath, high fever, or productive cough. Instead, patients commonly experience low-grade fever, dry cough, mild shortness of breath (especially during physical activity), and fatigue. MP can sometimes resemble an upper respiratory infection or common cold rather than a lower respiratory infection or pneumonia. The most prominent sign of infection is a dry cough. Other possible symptoms may include malaise and mild shortness of breath.


In rare cases, MP infections can lead to serious complications affecting various organs and systems, such as joint inflammation (arthritis), inflammation of the pericardium surrounding the heart (pericarditis), Guillain-Barré syndrome (a neurological disorder), encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), kidney failure, hemolytic anemia, rare skin conditions like Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis, and rare ear problems like bullous myringitis. Although rare, MP infections can occasionally be fatal.


  • Mycoplasma is usually spread from person-to-person through the air and by direct contact

Mycoplasma is found in the throat of infected persons and is spread to other people through the air by sneezing or coughing. It can also be spread by touching tissues or other things recently soiled by secretions from the nose or throat of an infected person.


  • Older adults, those with compromised immune systems, individuals with pre-existing lung disease or sickle cell disease, and children under the age of 5, are at a higher risk of developing Mycoplasma pneumonia (MP) infections.

In particular, there has been a significant surge in Mycoplasma pneumoniae infections among children in multiple areas recently.


  • The usual treatment involves the use of antibiotics, but antibiotic resistance should be taken into consideration.

Most people will recover from an infection caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae without antibiotics. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about over-the-counter medicines that can help you feel better while you are recovering.


However, if someone develops pneumonia (lung infection) caused by M. pneumoniae, doctors usually prescribe antibiotics. There are several types of antibiotics available to treat pneumonia caused by M. pneumoniae. Early detection and appropriate treatment with antibiotics can help manage the infection and prevent complications. However, it's important to note that some strains of Mycoplasma pneumoniae have developed resistance to certain antibiotics, highlighting the significance of responsible antibiotic use.


  • To reduce the risk of Mycoplasma pneumonia (MP) infection, follow preventive measures such as getting adequate sleep, maintaining a balanced diet, avoiding close contact with infected individuals, and practicing good hygiene.

The risk of contracting MP peaks in the fall and winter months. Close or crowded places make it easy for the infection to transmit from person to person.


To lower your risk of Mycoplasma pneumonia (MP) infection, it is recommended to follow these preventive measures:


  • Get Adequate Sleep: Aim for 6 to 8 hours of quality sleep each night. Sufficient sleep helps maintain a healthy immune system, which can aid in fighting off infections.


  • Maintain a Balanced Diet: Eating a nutritious and balanced diet supports overall health and strengthens the immune system. Include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your meals.


  • Avoid Close Contact with Infected Individuals: MP spreads through respiratory fluids, so it's important to avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of MP, such as coughing or sneezing.


  • Practice Good Hygiene: Practicing good hygiene is crucial in preventing the spread of infections. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before eating or after interacting with infected individuals.


For others, symptoms should subside 1 to 2 weeks after treatment. A cough may linger, but most cases resolve with no lasting consequences within 4 to 6 weeks.


See your doctor if you continue to experience severe symptoms or if the infection is interfering with your daily life. You may need to seek treatment or a diagnosis for any other conditions that your MP infection might’ve caused.