Mycoplasma

Mycoplasma pneumoniae is small atypical bacterium of the Mollicute class, and a member of the family Mycoplasmataceae. Mycoplasma pneumoniae was first isolated by Eaton et al in 1944 and is now recognised as a major cause of respiratory tract infection in humans.

Mycoplasma pneumoniae is geographically widespread, causing respiratory disease in children and adults, and is one of the causative agent of community acquired pneumonia. Transmission of M. pneumoniae from human to human is predominantly through close contact with airborne respiratory droplets from an infected individual. M. pneumoniae is sensitive to desiccation and therefore close proximity to an infected individual is necessary for successful transmission (CDC).

Mycoplasma pneumoniae is an extracellular pathogen which lacks a cell wall and has the capability of reproducing by itself. It can adhere to and infect respiratory epithelium in the upper and lower respiratory tract resulting in the gradual development of disease symptoms, which typically occurs over a period of 1- 4 weeks. The clinical symptoms associated with M. pneumoniae infection are diverse, but the disease is characterised by the onset of fever, headache, general malaise, pharyngitis, tracheobronchitis and a persistent cough that increases in severity. In some cases, infection can result in severe respiratory disease and clinical complications affecting extrapulmonary sites can also occur (Waites, KB et al).

Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection is self-limiting in most cases but may persist for several months, even after treatment.  Diagnosis of M. pneumoniae infection is currently performed using serological or molecular methods of detection. However, current methods of detection are time consuming, and lack the sensitivity, and improved assays are needed for rapid point-of-care diagnosis of the disease (CDC).

References

  1. Center of Disease Control and Prevention: Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection, Disease specifics.
  1. Waites, KB and Talkington, DF (2004). Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Its Role as a Human Pathogen.Clin Microbiol Rev. 17(4): 697–728.

3. Center of Disease Control and Prevention: Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection,        diagnostic methods.

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