Alternate Names : Mycoplasma Pneumoniae Infections, Primary Atypical Pneumonia
The organism Mycoplasma pneumoniae is a bacteria that causes infections in the respiratory system. Less often, it causes an infection of the central nervous
system, heart, or skin.
What is going on in the body?
Mycoplasma pneumoniae is a very contagious bacteria found only in humans. Young children infected with the bacteria often have no symptoms. Older children and adults often have upper respiratory infections. The windpipe and bronchial tubes may be infected. Less often, the person may have pneumonia or an ear infection.
Very rarely, the mycoplasma bacteria can cause infections in other parts of the body, including the following :
encephalitis, which is an infection of the brain tissue
meningitis, which is an infection of the membrane lining the brain and spinal cord
myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart
What are the causes and risks of the infection?
Mycoplasma infections are caused by the Mycoplasma pneumoniae bacteria. The bacteria spreads from person to person through respiratory secretions. Outbreaks of mycoplasma infections are often seen in young adults who live in crowded situations. For example, outbreaks are seen in college dormitories and military housing.
Individuals at high risk for mycoplasma infections include those who have the following conditions:
immunodeficiency disorders, which impair the body's ability to fight infection
lung disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
sickle cell anemia, a condition which causes abnormal red blood cells
Mycoplasma pneumonia most often occurs in fall and early winter.