Mycoplasma pneumoniae is a bacterium from the Mycoplasmataceae family of the Mollicutes class, specially characterized by its lack of a cell wall. This fact determines many of the characteristics of the microorganism, such as its polymorphism, which will not be stained by Gram stain, its resistance to beta-lactam antibiotics and its high sensitivity to changes in pH, temperature, osmotic stress and detergents.
Mycoplasma pneumoniae is an exclusively human pathogen, universally distributed. It accounts for 15-20% of community-acquired pneumonia. Infections occur without significant seasonal variation, but usually occur in epidemic cycles every 3-5 years, in relation to the fall and spring. It also produces upper airway infections, second only to the influenza A virus as a causative agent, when the etiology of these processes is determined by polymerase chain reaction technique (PCR).
Clinical features: Mycoplasma pneumoniae causes respiratory infections, mainly in the form of pneumonia, and due to the peculiar characteristics of its clinicoradiological presentation, it is called primary atypical pneumonia. Symptoms develop gradually over several days and include fever, non-productive cough, headache and myalgia. Often it is accompanied by pharyngitis, rhinitis, tracheobronchitis and otitis. Children with immune disorders such as sickle cell anemia, practical anesplenia or Down syndrome may develop severe and fulminant course of respiratory infection.
Diagnosis: The microbiological diagnosis in routine practice is generally based on the demonstration of specific antibodies, usually by particle agglutination, IFA, ELISA or CLIA. The application of PCR techniques in sputum or pharyngeal / nasopharyngeal swab and the development of multiplex PCR techniques, to detect M. pneumoniae and other respiratory pathogens, can be highly useful in clinical diagnostic laboratories.
Treatment: Most people fully recover without antibiotics, although antibiotics may speed up the recovery process. In untreated adults, cough and weakness can last up to a month. The disease can be more serious in the elderly, and in people with a weakened immune system.