Moraxella Catarrhalis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Epidemiology, Prognosis

There are many infections caused by the bacteria which can cause various serious symptoms in the body. One of the several bacteria causing the upper respiratory infections, pneumonia, ear infections etc; mostly in the infants and the young children is Moraxella Catarrhalis. This article will revolve around the Moraxella Catarrhalis bacterial infection, its symptoms, and diagnosis and treatment procedures.

Moraxella Catarrhalis

An Overview on Moraxella Catarrhalis:

  • Among all the several bacterial infections that attack our body, is the Moraxella Catarrhalis bacterial infection which mainly cause upper respiratory infections, pneumonia and ear infections. Moraxella Catarrhalis mainly infect the infants and the young children and ear infections are the most common infections caused by these bacteria. It is known that about 15% to 20% of the ear infections are caused by Moraxella Catarrhalis bacteria.
  • The Moraxella Catarrhalis bacteria are mostly cleared from the human body by the time of adulthood. Only people with chronic health issues, mostly those with respiratory diseases like COPD are likely to have the bacteria in their body.
  • Moraxella Catarrhalis is mainly common during winter days. It is during this time when babies catch ear infections due to Moraxella Catarrhalis.
  • Cleanliness of the house, personal hygiene, smoking in the home, and certain underlying health conditions can increase the chances of catching Moraxella Catarrhalis.
  • A close contact with respiratory secretions can spread Moraxella Catarrhalis in people.
  • The symptoms of Moraxella Catarrhalis infection may be similar to that of common cold. However the symptoms in such infections last more than 10 days. It is essential to go for a diagnosis and follow up treatments from an expert medical professional once the symptoms persist more than 10 days.
  • Moraxella Catarrhalis mainly respond to antibiotics. So, the treatments include various antibiotics and also special home care for treating the individual symptoms in case a person suffers from Moraxella Catarrhalis infection. We will know about them in the following array of our article.

Epidemiology on Moraxella Catarrhalis:

Moraxella Catarrhalis is the third most common bacterial agent in pediatric acute ear infection. The bacteria are responsible for acute exacerbations of chronic bronchitis and bronchopneumonia in the elderly people and people who lack a good immune system. It is found that Moraxella Catarrhalis colonizes the nasopharynx of about 7% of adults and 30% of children.

Symptoms of Moraxella Catarrhalis

Symptoms of Moraxella Catarrhalis:

Some of the most noted symptoms of Moraxella Catarrhalis are listed below.

Being a causative agent of upper respiratory infection, Moraxella Catarrhalis infections cause symptoms similar to that of common infections like pneumonia, ear infections and sinusitisis. It must be noted that symptoms persisting more than 10 days are mostly likely to be caused due to the Moraxella Catarrhalis infections and would require antibiotic treatments.

Diagnosis for Moraxella Catarrhalis:

It must be informed that Moraxella Catarrhalis is not diagnosed individually in a usual way; but as a general bacterial infection. If common antibiotics do not work, the doctor would run some special tests so as to see which antibiotic will be the most effective in treating or reducing the symptoms in Moraxella Catarrhalis infections in a patient.

Some of the diagnosis tests for Moraxella Catarrhalis may include the following.

  • Complete blood count
  • Cultures of the Sputum produced.
  • Blood serum antibodies for Moraxella Catarrhalis.

Apart from the diagnosis tests, your doctor may also go for a CT scan of the ear, sinus cavities and/or lungs in case the infection of Moraxella Catarrhalis is severe and is causing serious issues of ear infection, pneumonia etc.

Treatments for Moraxella Catarrhalis:

In this section, we will know about some of the treatment for Moraxella Catarrhalis. As mentioned earlier, the treatments usually include treating the individual symptoms seen in the Moraxella Catarrhalis infection. However the general treatment for Moraxella Catarrhalis includes the treatment via antibiotics.

It is noted that this bacterial strain of Moraxella catarhhalis requires newer and stronger antibiotics as there is a high level of antibiotic resistance with this strain. Most effective antibiotics prescribed generally by doctors for treating Moraxella Catarrhalis include the following.

  • Cephalosporins( Includes Ceclor, Zinacef, Ceftin etc)
  • Amoxicillin-clavulanate (Penicillin drugs)
  • Azithromycin (Macrolide drugs)
  • Erythromycin( Macrolide drugs)
  • Clarithromycin (Macrolide drugs)
  • Trimethoprim- sulfamethoxazole (Sulfa drugs)
  • Fluoroquinolones (Cipro, Levaquin etc)

Special Home Care for Moraxella Catarrhalis:

It is also mentioned earlier that treatments for Moraxella Catarrhalis infections requires good home care. Following are some of the special ways you can enhance the treatment process with special home care methods in case you or any of your known ones are suffering from the infection.

  • Fever is one of the symptoms in Moraxella Catarrhalis infections. If you are suffering from a fever above 101 degrees F then go for its treatment by keeping yourself cool and hydrated and by taking medicines like Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen.
  • It is essential to sanitize the sick room. As Moraxella Catarrhalis is easily transmitted via respiratory secretions; it is essential to be careful and keep the room clean.
  • It must be remembered that smoking in the house can transmit or increase the chance of growing the Moraxella Catarrhalis infection in the room in case the smoker is suffering from the same.
  • It is essential for everyone at home to practice washing of hands properly and keep away from the infection.
  • It is essential for the body to feel the fresh and open air in case it is fighting against infection. You can move outside to get the fresh air or can keep your windows open.
  • Eating right diet is highly essential to treat Moraxella Catarrhalis infection. Eat clear and soft foods or clear liquids.
  • Make sure you are having your mouth and nose covered in case you are sneezing or coughing with the infection of Moraxella Catarrhalis in your body.
  • It is effective when you humidify the air. Sinus infections and coughs are relieved with the help of humid air.

Prognosis for Moraxella Catarrhalis:

There are chances that some people suffering from Moraxella Catarrhalis infection may experience some complications; especially if there are any underlying diseases in the body. Failure of the infection to clear, blood infection, hearing loss, spinal meningitis, Mastoiditis or severe infection of the inner ear that has spread to the mastoid bones, shock, death etc are some of the complications which may be associated with Moraxella Catarrhalis infections, especially in those of infants, elderly people and those with any underlying health issue.

It is noted that the prognosis for Moraxella Catarrhalis is pretty good if the infection is detected early. Usually with 5-7 days of antibiotic treatment, the infection clears off.


It is essential to note that Moraxella Catarrhalis infection must be diagnosed properly and at early times so as to take necessary treatment steps in order to get rid of the infection at an ease. It is recommended that if you or any of your known ones is suffering from any of the symptoms mentioned in the article that lasts for more than a week or 10 days, kindly make a doctor’s visit and have proper diagnosis on it. Apart from this, follow the special home care tips and prevent self from spreading of the Moraxella Catarrhalis infection.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 24, 2019

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