Atypical Pneumonia, as the name suggests, is caused by non-typical micro-organisms. Typically, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae and Moraxella catarrhalis can all cause pneumonia. On the contrary, atypical pneumonia is not caused by these pathogens. It is caused by fungi, virus and bacteria. Though there is a bit of history behind the nomenclature, the crux is that atypical pneumonia is caused by organisms such as Legionella, Mycoplasma and Chlamydophila. However, atypical pneumonia brought about due to Mycoplasma and Chlamydophila bacteria usually cause mild forms of pneumonia, unlike other types of the disease that can come on more quickly with acute symptoms.
A person who has contracted Atypical Pneumonia will show some or all of the symptoms listed below:
• Rapid breathing and shortness of breath
• Chills and fevers
• General discomfort and confusion
• Headache, muscle ache
• Loss of appetite, diarrhea
• Cough – sometimes with moderate amount of sputum
• Outbreak of rashes
• No response to penicillin and sulpha drugs
• No abnormal increase in the white blood cell count or leukocytosis
• Absence of exudates from the alveoli (small air sacs) in the lungs.
Clearly, it is both important as well as is interesting for a patient of atypical pneumonia to know which of these agents has brought about the disease, since each pathogen behaves differently in running its course and responds to different drugs. Let us take a look at this phenomenon:
1. Atypical pneumonia caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae: Mycoplasma pneumoniae also presents less severe symptoms of the disease. As the condition progresses, anemia, encephalitis, meningitis and myleitis may occur, especially in children. In some cases, the infection may begin with flu-like presentation such as chills, fever, malaise and headache, etc. However, as the disease continues into the advanced stages, it exhibits pulmonary and extrapulmonary presentations such as those of the central nervous system (CNS), hematologic, cardiac and various gastro-intestinal manifestations.