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Mycoplasma pneumoniae detections before and during the COVID-19 pandemic: results of a global survey, 2017–2021

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posted on 2022-05-16, 09:46 authored by Patrick M. Meyer Sauteur, Mike BeetonMike Beeton, Søren A. Uldum, Nathalie Bossuyt, Melissa Vermeulen, Katherine Loens, Sabine Pereyre, Cécile Bebear, Darja Keše, Jessica Day, Baharak Afshar, Victoria J. Chalker, Gilbert Greub, Ran Nir-Paz, Roger Dumke, ESGMAC–MyCOVID Study Team

Background: Mycoplasma pneumoniae respiratory infections are transmitted by aerosol and droplet particles among persons in close contact. 

Aim: This study investigated the global M. pneumoniae incidence after the implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) against COVID-19. 

Methods: We surveyed M. pneumoniae detections from laboratories and surveillance systems (national or regional) across the world from 2020-04-01 to 2021-03-31. Numbers of detections were compared with cases from corresponding periods in 2017-04-01–2020-03-31. Macrolide-resistant M. pneumoniae (MRMp) data were also collected from 2017-04-01–2021-03-31. 

Results: 37 sites from 21 countries in Europe, Asia, America, and Oceania submitted valid datasets (631,104 tests). A total of 30,617 M. pneumoniae detections were reported by direct test methods (62.39%; predominantly PCR), a combination of PCR and serology (34.24%; no distinction between methods), or serology alone (3.37%; IgM considered only). All countries experienced a significant reduction in M. pneumoniae incidence by direct test methods after the implementation of NPIs with 1.69%±3.30% (mean±standard deviation) compared to 8.61%±10.62% during 04/2017–03/2020 (P<0.01). Detection rates decreased with direct but not with indirect test methods (serology) (–93.51% vs. +18.08%; P<0.01). Direct detections remained remarkably low worldwide throughout 04/2020–03/2021 despite widely differing lockdown or school closure periods. MRMp was reported from seven sites (Europe, Asia, and America) and detected in 4.55% (n=1/22) of investigated cases in 04/2020–03/2021 and 23.10% (n=176/762) during 04/2017–03/2020 (P=0.04). 

Conclusions: This is a comprehensive collection of M. pneumoniae detections worldwide showing a correlation between COVID-19 NPIs and a significantly reduced number of M. pneumoniae detections. 


P.M.M.S. was supported by a Walter und Gertrud Siegenthaler Fellowship and the career development program “Filling the Gap” of the University of Zurich, outside of this study. The ESGMAC covered costs for the survey development and administration.


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European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control


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Sauteur, P.M.M., Beeton, M., Uldum, S.A., Bossuyt, N., Vermeulen, M., Loens, K., Pereyre, S., Bebear, C., Keše, D., Day, J. and Afshar, B. (2022) 'Mycoplasma pneumoniae detections before and during the COVID-19 pandemic: results of a global survey, 2017–2021', Eurosurveillance 27 (19) DOI: 10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2022.27.19.2100746

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Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences

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Mike Beeton

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Microbiology & Infection

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