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West J Med. 1995 Feb;162(2):133-42.

Fulminant Mycoplasma pneumoniae pneumonia.

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Division of Pulmonary Sciences, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver 80262, USA.


The frequency of fulminant pneumonia due to Mycoplasma pneumoniae is relatively rare despite the high prevalence of Mycoplasma species infection in the general population. We recently encountered such a case and have reviewed the English-language literature on cases of M pneumoniae pneumonia that have resulted in respiratory failure or death. Due to host factors or on epidemiologic grounds, fulminant cases seem to be more common in young healthy adults, in males, and possibly in smokers among the 46 patients we found. An enhanced host cellular immune response may be responsible for the development of severe cases. A spectrum of small airways disease is characteristic, including cellular bronchiolitis and bronchiolitis obliterans with and without organizing pneumonia. Based largely on anecdotal experience, corticosteroid use may be salutary in patients with respiratory failure. For reasons that are not well known, the incidence of pulmonary thromboembolism is increased in fatal cases.

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