Mycoplasma Pneumonia

Because the symptoms and physical signs of mycoplasma pneumonia, along with the course of the illness, differ strikingly from those of classic pneumococcal pneumonia, mycoplasma pneumonia was once believed to be caused by one or more undiscovered viruses, and was called "primary atypical pneumonia."

Identified during World War II, mycoplasmas:

  • are the smallest free-living agents of disease in humans
  • are unclassified as to whether bacteria or viruses
  • possess characteristics of both bacteria and viruses


The pneumonia caused by mycoplasmas:

  • is usually mild and widespread
  • affects all age groups
  • occurs most frequently in older children and young adults
  • rarely causes death, even in untreated cases


The most prominent symptoms of mycoplasma pnuemonia are:

  • a cough that tends to come in violent paroxysms
  • a sparse white sputum

Early symptoms are:

  • chilly sensations
  • nausea or vomiting
  • slow heartbeat

In some extreme cases these may also be accompanied by:

  • breathlessness
  • bluish cast to lips and nailbeds

Page Last Updated: 18/12/2015