Bacteria Home > Mycoplasma Pneumonia

A common cause of "walking pneumonia," mycoplasma pneumonia is an infection that accounts for up to 50 percent of pneumonia cases in military recruits and college students. It is caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae bacteria. The symptoms are similar to those seen with regular pneumonia, such as cough, headache, and sore throat, but generally less severe. This illness usually responds well to antibiotics.

What Is Mycoplasma Pneumonia?

Mycoplasma pneumonia is an illness caused by the bacteria Mycoplasma pneumoniae. It is very common, accounting for about 20 percent of pneumonia cases in middle and high school students, and up to 50 percent of cases in college students and military recruits. This type of pneumonia occurs most frequently during the fall and winter, but may develop year-round.
Most cases of mycoplasma pneumonia are less severe than regular pneumonia. This is why healthcare providers may use the term "walking pneumonia" to describe it -- people with the illness can still "walk around."

Symptoms of Mycoplasma Pneumonia

Although symptoms of this disease are less severe than regular pneumonia, a person can still feel miserable. Some common symptoms of mycoplasma pneumonia include:
  • A cough (either it is a dry cough or it produces just a small amount of clear sputum -- if there is color in the sputum, it often happens later)
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • A general feeling of fatigue
  • Low-grade fever -- 99°F to 100.9°F (37.3°C to 38.3°C)
  • Chills
  • Runny nose
  • Ear pain.
A person with asthma may also experience worsening symptoms when infected with Mycoplasma pneumoniae. In addition, this bacteria can cause problems outside of the lungs, including those affecting the brain, blood cells, liver, and skin.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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