Background: Currently, broad empiric antimicrobial treatment including atypical coverage is recommended for patients with mild to moderate community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). Therefore, the relative impact of each atypical pathogen, particularly Mycoplasma pneumoniae deserves renewed attention.
Methods: Based on prospective data from 4532 patients with CAP included in the German CAP-Competence Network (CAPNETZ), we studied the incidence, clinical characteristics, and outcome of patients with Mycoplasma pneumoniae pneumonia (MPP). The diagnosis of MPP was based on a positive PCR from respiratory samples and/or a positive IgM-titer from an acute phase serum sample.
Results: 307 patients (6.8%) had definite MPP (148 with positive PCR, 204 with positive IgM, 46 with positive PCR and IgM). Compared to patients with other definite and unknown etiologies, patients with MPP were significantly younger (41 +/- 16 versus 62 +/- 17 and 61 +/- 18 years), had fewer co-morbidities, presented with a less severe disease, showed a lower inflammatory response in terms of leukocyte counts (median 8850 versus 13200 and 11000 microL) and CRP values (60 versus 173 and 73 mg/L), and had better outcomes, including a shorter length of hospitalization (9 +/- 5 versus 14 +/- 11 and 12 +/- 9 days), fewer patients requiring mechanical ventilation (0.3 versus 4.5 and 2.1%), and a minimal mortality (0.7 versus 8.7 and 6.5%).
Conclusion: In this large series of patients with definite MPP according to very strict criteria, MPP appears as a condition with a high incidence, quite specific clinical presentation, and a largely benign course. In view of a widely favorable clinical outcome, recent recommendations including regular coverage of atypical pathogens in patients with mild to moderate CAP might be reconsidered for patients in Germany as well as in other countries with comparable epidemiological settings.