Fast Facts You Need to Know about Infections Caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae

1. Pneumonia caused by M. pneumoniae is considered “atypical” because:

Doctor showing patient chest x-ray
  • Characteristics, like symptoms and duration of sickness, are different than typical pneumonia.
  • Symptoms can be milder than typical pneumonia, but they do tend to last longer.
  • Infection can appear differently on a lung x-ray.*

M. pneumoniae bacteria have many unique characteristics. They are the smallest organism capable of living and reproducing on its own.

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2. M. pneumoniae can cause different types of respiratory infections other than pneumonia.

Young adult coughing into her elbow
  • Tracheobronchitis or a chest cold is the most common illness caused in children.
  • Symptoms of illness depend on intensity and type of infection.
  • Most M. pneumoniae infections are mild, however some can cause more serious complications.

Did you know?

In the United States, M. pneumoniae is the most common bacteria causing pneumonia in hospitalized children, and second most common bacteria causing pneumonia in hospitalized adults.1

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3. Good hand hygiene and cough etiquette is important for preventing infection.

Woman washing her hands
  • People can spread M. pneumoniae bacteria to others by coughing or sneezing.
  • Be aware of people around you. Once infected, it can take up to 4 weeks for someone to develop symptoms.
  • There is no vaccine to prevent infections.

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*Only a healthcare provider can determine if M. pneumoniae is the cause of infection.


1 Jain S, Williams DJ, Arnold SR, et al. Community-acquired pneumonia requiring hospitalization among U.S. childrenexternal icon. N Engl J Med. 2015;372:835-45.