A mycoplasma infection causes respiratory symptoms including sore throat, fever, fatigue, headache, a cough that steadily worsens and lasts for weeks or months and pneumonia. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that mycoplasma, or the bacterium Mycoplasma pneumoniae, causes a mild illness where the symptoms appear and grow worse over a period of one to four weeks.
Only one in three people who get sick from mycoplasma develop pneumonia, a lung infection that is the most serious form of mycoplasma-induced illness, explains the CDC. It is also called "walking pneumonia," and many people go about work and daily routines without knowing they have a mycoplasma infection. Few are sick enough to be bed-ridden or hospitalized, though the CDC relates that mycoplasma is the second-most common cause of adult hospitalizations for pneumonia. Walking pneumonia from mycoplasma infection is most common among older children and adults under 40, according to WebMD.
Mycoplasma spreads through airborne droplets emitted when an infected person sneezes or coughs, notes WebMD. Schools, prisons and other crowded places are the breeding grounds for mycoplasma outbreaks, and prolonged exposure to an infected person is required for someone to get a mycoplasma infection. Most cases of mycoplasma infection resolve on their own without treatment, even cases of pneumonia.