Macrolide-resistant Mycoplasma pneumoniae: its role in respiratory infection

Nicola Principi, Susanna Esposito
Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 2013, 68 (3): 506-11
Although the clinical relevance of antibiotic treatment in influencing the natural course of Mycoplasma pneumoniae-associated respiratory diseases is questioned by some physicians, most experts suggest that antibiotics should be systematically used in patients with M. pneumoniae respiratory infections, especially those involving the lower respiratory tract. Macrolides (MLs), tetracyclines (TCs) and fluoroquinolones (FQs) are the drugs of choice for M. pneumoniae infection, but only MLs are recommended for children. The main aim of this review is to analyse what is known about M. pneumoniae resistance to MLs and discuss the most reasonable approach to treating patients with M. pneumoniae infection at a time when resistant strains are being increasingly detected. The results show that no change in ML prescription is needed in countries in which the incidence of ML-resistant M. pneumoniae is low; however, in countries in which ML-resistant M. pneumoniae strains are very common, the replacement of an ML by a TC or FQ should be considered depending on the severity of the disease. A number of cases treated with ineffective antibiotics have shown similar outcomes to those observed in patients infected by susceptible strains. This seems to indicate that there is no need to change ML use systematically in the case of mild to moderate disease, but other antibiotics should be prescribed if the symptoms persist or there are signs of a clinical deterioration.

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