Mycoplasma is a genus of bacteria that has been associated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).
In human disease
The Mycoplasma genus consists of large number of species, many of which are known to infect humans. There are standard documented diseases such as atypical pneumonia that can be caused by Mycoplasma. There are then a further number of diseases eg, Gulf War Illness, rheumatoid arthritis, which have been speculatively associated with Mycoplasma.
In the medical community Mycoplasma is most often associated with the species Mycoplasma pneumoniae. In human diseases, this species generally manifests as an acute respiratory infection. The severity of this infection can range from mild to a more serious pneumonia. Normally the condition will subside after a course of antibiotics.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
A small number of published studies have suggested an increased prevalence of Mycoplasma presence in individuals with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as compared to healthy controls. These species include Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Mycoplasma fermentans and more.
A later study, by a different group, was unable to detect the presence of Mycoplasma in either patients with CFS or healthy controls. The authors of this study have advised potential limitations of the patient selection and detection methodology of the earlier studies.
Standard Mycoplasma Pneumoniae infections are generally detected using antibody tests. Such tests may be insufficient for chronic Mycoplasma detection and instead PCR tests may be more effective..
The reliability of Mycoplasma testing from specific private laboratories may not be well established. Variation in results may be seen between different labs so discretion may be needed. An example of a private test provider for Mycoplasma PCR is Australian Biologics.
As the link between Mycoplasma and CFS is not well established, there is no standard treatment protocol for suspected cases. Mycoplasma are generally susceptible to antibiotics. There is one published study which suggests long term Doxycycline may be effective for CFS patients who are detected with a Mycoplasma infection.
Despite limited evidence, a number of practitioners consider and treat CFS patients who show signs of a chronic Mycoplasma infection. Treatment usually involves long term antibiotics along with supportive measures. Examples of practitioner protocols are those of Dr. Richard Schloeffel, Dr. Greg Emerson and the late Dr. Lerner.
- . http://jmm.microbiologyresearch.org/content/journal/jmm/10.1099/jmm.0.05316-0