by Reshma Suthar

        Disease Name

Chlamydia                                                                                                        Scientific Name: Chlamydia trachomatis

        Means of Transmission

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease that is transmitted by direct contact through oral, vaginal and anal intercourse. The disease is also transmitted to newborns through vaginal birth by an infected mother.7

        Usual reservoirs

The mucous membranes of the genital region, throat and eyes in the human body are the usual reservoirs for Chlamydia.1

        Etiologic agent

Similar to a virus, this organism grows inside the host cell. Although many of its physical and genetic makeup is still unknown,  it is appears that overtime the bacterium has become manipulative in getting the essential nutrients that itself is unable to make from the host cell. The organism is an obligate intracellular parasite that is a gram negative coccoid bacteria. It is a nonmotile intracellular organism that does not have a peptidoglycan layer and is unable to produce its own ATP.2

       Key Tests for Identification

1. The ELISA test and the FA test can be done, however it is effective only when the bacterium not infectious or metabolically active. These tests are used to detect group specific LPS and strain-specific outer membrane proteins.6

2. The gram stain should show gram negative cocci bacterium6

3. Culture and Iodine staining are done for inclusion bodies6

4. A serological tests that detects high titer IgM antibodies. Presence of these would indicate a recent infection. However this test would not be useful in adults because it cannot distinguish between current and previous infections.6

        Historical Information.

Chlamydia trachomatis was first discovered in 1907 by Stanislaus von Prowazek in Berlin.  The genus part of the name, Chlalmydia, comes from the Greek word chlamys, which means cloak and the species part of the name, trachomatis is also Greek and means rough or harsh.  This name is perfectly associated with the actions of this disease.6

        Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of this disease are asymptomatic and most people do not even know they are infected and that is why this disease is the most common STD in the United States.  50% of men and 75% of women do not experience any symptoms. The symptoms and signs below are the most common: 5

Men: Genital itching, painful urination, painful or swollen testicles, discharge from the penis, inflamed rectum, sore and red throat, inflamed eyelids.5

Women: Inflamed rectum, painful urination, vaginal discharge, back and abdominal pain, painful intercourse, bleeding between cycles, nausea or fever.

Infants: most infants usually contract the disease during birth by an infected mother; conjunctivitis or pneumonia may result.5

If this disease is not treated properly and is not detected early on then serious illnesses may develop.5

        Microbial Virulence Mechanisms

The organism enters the body through mucous membranes that bind to receptors on the host cells and are taken in by endocytosis or phagocytosis.  The organism is unable to combine with the lysosome and is able to resist being digested and killed.  The organisms reproduce by binary fission. The organisms have a rough outer membrane that allows them to be resistant against environmental conditions which is associated with the name trachomatis.4

         Prevention for the Disease

Abstinence, latex condoms for oral, vaginal and anal intercourse, frequent examination between partners.2

Treatment for the Disease

This disease is curable with antibiotics such as: tetracycline, erythromycin, sulfonamides, and zithromax. 4

A person can be re-infected again and again after treatment.7

        Current Research

Currently, Antex Biologics, is in the process of testing a new vaccine called TRACVAX for the prevention of Chlamydia.

        Five Reliable Internet References

1. Monica Williams  Chlamydia: Symptoms and Consequences of Infection 2005 (exact date not provided) 12-10-05


2. C. H. Davis, J. E. Raulston, and P. B. Wyrick  Protein Disulfide Isomerase, a Component of the Estrogen Receptor Complex, Is Associated with Chlamydia trachomatis Serovar E Attached to Human Endometrial Epithelial Cells  July 2002 12-11-05

3. Laurie K. Doepel Scientists Sequence Chlamydia trachomatis Genome  October 22, 1998 12-10-05

4. Marianne Flagg Antibiotics for Chlamydia February 27, 2005 12-09-05

5.  Anonymous Symptoms of Chlamydia October 23, 2003 12-11-05

6. Dr. Jordan Dimitrakov Chlamydia: A Journey From Embryonated Egg To LCR   2002 (exact date not provided)  12-11-05

7.  Anonymous Sexually Transmitted Disease Facts   August 31, 2005 12-08-05