The mycoplasma blood test is used to help a medical provider determine if there is a systemic infection that is present in the body. It is usually used to determine if there is mycoplasma pneumoniae present in the respiratory tract. By measuring the levels of antibodies that are produced by the body in response to the infection, it becomes possible to know if a current infection is occurring or one has happened in the recent past.
IgM antibody production typically spikes when there is a mycoplasma-caused infection, but then declines and stays present in the blood for sometimes several months at a time. A typical testing regimen involves having all antibody tests ordered with an acute sample and then another mycoplasma blood test will be ordered between 2-4 weeks after the initial positive results.
Mycoplasma blood testing can also directly detect the microorganism that creates the antibodies, but typically requires a culture from the blood test and this may take up to 4 weeks to either confirm or deny its presence. DNA testing on a sample has decreased this time, but because mycoplasma also colonizes within the body without causing an infection, it is difficult to know through DNA typing whether it is the cause of an infection.
When is the Mycoplasma Blood Test Ordered?
The mycoplasma blood test is typically ordered when someone presents themselves to a medical provider with respiratory symptoms that do not seem associated with a bacterial infection. This may include a sore throat, muscle aches, unusual headaches, a fever, or a cough that lasts for several weeks and is not productive.
What Do My Test Results Mean?
A positive test result which indicates the presence of this bacteria will typically result in a medical provider ordering a series of antibiotics to kill off the infection. It is important to seek early treatment and to have this test result come back quickly because the bacteria can spread from its initial infection point. Walking pneumonia, heart inflammation, arthritis, rash, and anemia are all possibilities when treatment is not sought or antibiotics are not effective.
The mycoplasma blood test is commonly ordered for infants and young children who are suspected to have a compromised immune system. Those with lung infections or a systemic infection caused by this bacteria will also have routine testing completed to track differences from baseline health. It is also used to monitor the effectiveness of the treatment plan that has been developed.
In rare instances, the mycoplasma blood test may be used to determine the cause of a urinary tract infection. Many people have this bacteria with their normal bacterial colonization around the genital region, so direct testing is not effective because of this. For non STI/STD inflammation in the genital region, however, this test can be effective to determine if mycoplasma is the cause of the infection.
Here’s What You Need to Know
Most of the infections that are caused by mycoplasma can be handled by an individual’s immune system. There’s a good chance that at least one of the colds that are experienced over the course of a year are caused by this organism instead of a virus. The symptoms of a mycoplasma infection are typically mild, non-specific in nature, and self-limited so they don’t require treatment.
Although infection prevention methods, such as washing hands frequently and avoiding touch contact with the eyes, nose, and mouth can be effective at stopping mycoplasma from spreading. Not every infection can be avoided, however, because some outbreaks can be passed along through sneeze droplets or in the same manner as an STI/STD. It can also be passed from mother to child in certain circumstances.
Mycoplasma testing is different from other bacterial infection testing because local providers don’t usually have a rapid response test available to them. It is usually performed at a hospital or at a reference laboratory. If the regular culture method is used on this blood test, then it may be several weeks before a definitive result is received.
The mycoplasma blood test is used to determine if there is a bacterial cause behind bothersome respiratory symptoms or inflammation that is occurring somewhere in the body without a known cause. Up to 2 million mycoplasma infections are suspected in the US alone every year, with it most commonly occurring in school and military population demographics. Most infections are mild, but if a prolonged illness occurs, this blood test can help a medical provider identify and treat a stubborn infection.