Demystifying Mycoplasma Infections: Causes, Symptoms, and Effective Treatments

Demystifying Mycoplasma Infections: Causes, Symptoms, and Effective Treatments

Mycoplasma are tiny bacteria that cause several diseases of the urogenital and respiratory tract in humans. Some live peacefully on the genital mucous membranes without us noticing anything. However, sometimes mycoplasma triggers diseases – mycoplasma infections.

The mycoplasma

Mycoplasma are the smallest and simplest known organisms that are self-replicating. Unlike other bacteria, they only have a thin membrane instead of a cell wall. Therefore, the class they belong to is called Mollicutes (“soft skins”). They depend on host organisms.

Their tiny size, simplicity and lack of cell wall and thus malleability equip them optimally for their parasitic existence and enable them to attach themselves tightly to the membranes of the host cells and become mobile through gliding movements if necessary. These survival mechanisms are very effective – the Mollicutes are estimated to be 65 million years old.

 

mycoplasma infections

Pathogens relevant to humans are Mycoplasma hominis and Ureaplasma urealyticum for urogenital infections and Mycoplasma pneumonia for atypical pneumonia. While the latter germ is always disease-causing, the other two are so-called commensals, i.e. they usually live on their host without harming it. Sometimes, however, they solve a local inflammation, VA

  • the urethra ( urethritis ),
  • but also the prostate
  • of the renal pelvis,
  • the vagina or uterus.

Progressive infections with fever and general symptoms can also occur, and the pathogens (e.g. Ureaplasma urealyticum) seem responsible for joint inflammation, e.g. Reiter’s syndrome. The cause is probably a reduced local or general weakness of the immune system, e.g. as part of antibiotic therapy, cancer or after an operation or childbirth.

Mycoplasma infection is a sexually transmitted

Mycoplasma infections belong to the sexually transmitted diseases, so they are passed on during sexual intercourse. In addition, more than 50% of Ureaplasma urealyticum is transmitted to the child during pregnancy or birth. Possible consequences are low birth weight, premature birth and respiratory and meningeal infections in the newborn. Whether mycoplasma can also be held responsible for miscarriages and infertility is controversial.

Whether and how many mycoplasmas settle on the genital mucous membranes depends heavily on sexual activity and the number of sex partners. They can be found in up to three-quarters of women and up to 45% of men with frequently changing sexual intercourse. Most people seem to have come into contact with the germs during their lives – antibodies against mycoplasma are detectable in almost 95% of middle-aged people.

 

Mycoplasma infection: symptoms and signs

The symptoms are usually minor and uncharacteristic. They depend on where the inflammation is located (vagina, bladder, ureters, prostate, kidneys, renal pelvis, fallopian tubes, ovaries). The most common symptoms are an increased urge to urinate, discomfort and burning when urinating, yellowish discharge (urethritis) and pain in the kidney area ( pyelonephritis ).

Mycoplasma: therapy and detection

Since mycoplasmas also occur in many healthy people, it is not always easy to clarify whether they are the cause of the disease. If Ureaplasma urealyticum is detected in the child, this can be an indication of sexual abuse. The cultivation of culture media can detect germs. The test material is urine, ejaculate, prostate secretion or a smear from the urethra for men, urine or smears from the vagina, cervix or urethra for women, and amniotic fluid or smears from the fetal membrane for pregnant women.

The result is available after six days at the latest. Symptoms of the disease are treated with antibiotics. However, not all are suitable since agents such as penicillin attack the cell walls. Since mycoplasmas do not have any, therapeutic agents with other mechanisms of action must be resorted to (e.g. erythromycin). To avoid reinfection, the sexual partners should also be treated, even if they have no symptoms.

  • Mycoplasma hominins and Ureaplasma urealyticum also colonize the genital mucosa of healthy people.
  • Mycoplasma hominins and Ureaplasma urealyticum can primarily cause inflammation of the urogenital tract.
  • Infection occurs through unprotected sexual intercourse or during pregnancy from mother to child.
  • Symptoms of the disease are treated with antibiotics.
  • Sexual partners should also be treated.

 

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