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Mycoplasma Pneumoniae

This fact sheet answers frequently asked questions about Mycoplasma Pneumoniae.

A germ called Mycoplasma pneumoniae causes mycoplasma infection. It is a common illness that can cause upper respiratory infection or a mild form of pneumonia, sometimes called “walking pneumonia”.

The basics

Who gets mycoplasma infection?

Anyone can get the illness, but it is more common in older children and young adults. It is the leading cause of pneumonia in school age children and young adults.

How do I find out if I have a mycoplasma infection?

A healthcare provider may diagnose mycoplasma infection based on typical symptoms in an older child or young adult. If necessary, a healthcare provider can do laboratory tests including a blood test or sputum test, but these tests are not always accurate.

How is mycoplasma infection spread?

The germs that cause mycoplasma infection live in the nose and throat. They spray into the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs. People nearby then breathe in these germs which settle in the lungs. A person can get mycoplasma infection more than once.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of mycoplasma infection?

The symptoms include a dry cough, sore throat, fever, headache, and tiredness. These symptoms typically occur 14 to 21 days after exposure.

Prevention

How to prevent mycoplasma infection? 

There are many ways to help prevent the spread of germs:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue every time you cough or sneeze. Throw the used tissue in a waste basket
  • After coughing or sneezing, always clean your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Stay away from people who are sick
  • Do not share eating utensils, drinking glasses, towels or other personal items, especially with people who are ill

Treatment

What is the treatment for mycoplasma infection?

Upper respiratory tract infections do not usually need medication. If you have pneumonia, your healthcare provider may give you an antibiotic. It is important to seek medical care if your symptoms continue, you have problems breathing or you have any other unusual concerns.

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