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Klin Padiatr. 2011 Jul;223(4):209-13. doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1271717. Epub 2011 Apr 20.

Mycoplasma pneumoniae-associated encephalitis in childhood--nervous system disorder during or after a respiratory tract infection.

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  • 1Department of Paediatrics, Triemli Hospital Zurich, Switzerland.



Mycoplasma pneumoniae is an important aetiological agent of encephalitis in children, with encephalitis being the most frequent paediatric extrapulmonary manifestation of M. pneumoniae infections. Evidence of M. pneumoniae involvement in childhood encephalitis is difficult to obtain, because M. pneumoniae is seldom detected in the cerebrospinal fluid and the clinical picture shows gradual onset. Therefore, we present a small case-study as a paradigm of M. pneumoniae-associated encephalitis in childhood and illustrate the importance of this entity based on a review of previously published cases.


We describe neurological signs and symptoms of 2 patients with M. pneumoniae-associated encephalitis in childhood. Respiratory symptoms with fever occurred in both children. They were seropositive for M. pneumoniae, but did not have the organism detected by PCR from cerebrospinal fluid. No long-term neurologic sequelae occurred.


M. pneumoniae has to be considered as a responsible pathogen of encephalitis in children, even if respiratory symptoms do not occur. Due to the seldom detection of M. pneumoniae in cerebrospinal fluid, evidence of m. pneumoniae involvement in childhood encephalitis is difficult to obtain.Faced with a neurological disease with no organism detected in CNS in the majority of cases assumes that M. pneumoniae-associated encephalitis is most likely a paradigm for an autoimmune disease with uniform pathogenesis mediated by an immunologic response to an antecedent antigenic stimulus from M. pneumoniae. It is important to relate this organism to this relatively common and potentially devastating clinical syndrome.

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