Fatal Outcomes in Family Transmission of Mycoplasma pneumoniae


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Abstract

Background.Mycoplasma pneumoniae continues to be a significant cause of community-acquired pneumonia and, on rare occasions, manifests as fulminant disease that leads to mortality, even in healthy individuals.Methods. We conducted a retrospective study on members of a family who were quarantined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2002 for respiratory failure and death of a 15-year-old brother (sibling 1) and a 13-year-old sister (sibling 2). Collected airway, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), and serum samples from both deceased siblings and serum samples from both parents and the remaining 3 ill siblings (sibling 3–5) were tested using a range of diagnostic assays. Autopsy lung tissue samples from sibling 2 were also assessed using immunohistochemical and immunoelectron microscopic methods.Results. Autopsy evaluation of sibling 1 revealed cerebral edema consistent with hypoxic ischemic encepatholopathy and pulmonary findings of bronchiolitis obliterans with organizing pneumonia (BOOP). Postmortem lung examination of sibling 2 revealed lymphoplasmacytic bronchiolitis with intraluminal purulent exudate, BOOP, and pulmonary edema. Results of diagnostic assays implicated the household transmission of M. pneumoniae among all 5 siblings and both parents. Further analysis of lung tissue from sibling 2 demonstrated the presence of M. pneumoniae organisms and community-acquired respiratory distress syndrome toxin. M. pneumoniae was cultured directly from sibling 2 autopsy lung tissue.Conclusion. Evidence is provided that M. pneumoniae was readily transmitted to all members of the household and that the resulting infections led to a spectrum of individual responses with variation in disease progression, including lymphoplasmacytic bronchiolitis, BOOP, and death.

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