Prevention and Treatment

No practical preventive measures exist for mycoplasmal pneumonia, except avoiding crowding in schools and military facilities. Antibiotics that act against bacterial cell walls, such as the penicillins and cephalosporins, are of course not effective. Tetracycline and erythromycin shorten the illness if given early, but they are bacteriostatic, meaning they only inhibit the growth of the bacteria without killing them.

Some features of pneumococcal, Klebsiella, and mycoplasmal pneumonias are compared in table 23.7.

Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

Whooping cough is the common name for pertussis, a disease that is now uncommon in the United States because of childhood immunization. The causative bacterium is widespread, however, and remains a threat to those people who lack immunity. Worldwide, the disease causes 300,000 to 500,000 deaths yearly.

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