Chlamydia Fall '11

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Disease Name


Chlamydia-trachomatis stain.jpeg


Chlamydia trachomatis

  • obligate anaerobe
  • intracellular organism
  • most closely resembles a Gram negative organism [10]
  • includes DNA and RNA as its nucleic acid
  • has many similar characteristics to a virus [10]

Chlamydia taxonomy.gif

Scientific name

Chlamydia trachomatis

Disease cycle

The life cycle of a bacterial Chlamydia cell is unique, but simple. There are two components to it. First is a small, dense, but very contagious cell, that is resistant to drying out, called an elementary body. [12] [13] Elementary bodies are responsible for dispersal once exiting the cell. The second component is a larger, less dense cell called a reticulate body. The reticulate bodies are in their vegetative form and divide via binary fission. The infection cycle of chlamydial bacteria includes the elementary bodies attacking a host cell, phagocytosis of the elementary bodies happens, conversion of the cell to a reticulate body, multiplication of the reticulate bodies by form of binary fission, conversion of the reticulate bodies into elementary bodies, and finally the release of the elementary bodies to go and attack other heatlthy cells. [11]

Chlamydia life cycle 2.png [6]


Chlamydia is known as a "silent killer" because it usually shows little to no symptoms.

If symptoms were to show in the reproductive organs, they may develop somewhere between 1 and 3 weeks after exposure, and some may include:

In Men: [3]

  • discharge from the penis
  • burning sensation during urination
  • pain during sexual intercourse
  • burning and/or itching around the opening of the penis
  • pain and/or swelling of the testicles

In Women: [3]

  • abnormal discharge from the vagina
  • lower abdominal pain
  • lower back pain
  • nausea
  • fever
  • pain during sexual intercourse
    Chlamydia passed to newborn.jpeg
  • bleeding between menstrual cycles
  • burning sensation during urination
  • vaginal irritation

Most women don't know they have Chlamydia until they find out there is scarring in their fallopian tube. If a woman with Chlamydia becomes pregnant, most likely a C-section will be performed in order to keep the baby from obtaining it through the birth canal. If the mother were to birth a child while infected with chlamydia, it is possible that the child could obtain trachoma's of the eye. Even worse, the baby could aspirate from the birthing canal and be infected with pneumonia.

Symptoms in the eye include:

  • redness
  • itching
  • discharge
  • inward turning of upper eyelids

Symptoms in the throat include:

  • soreness


  • Of the 3.5 million Americans infected with [sexually transmitted] Chlamydia every year, 85 to 90 percent show no symptoms. [1]
  • As many as 1 in 4 men with chlamydia have no symptoms. [7]
  • Only about 30% of women with chlamydia have symptoms. [7]
  • Anywhere from 11-20% of infants born to infected mothers tend to develop symptomatic pneumonia before 8 weeks old. [2]
  • Chlamydia is the #1 transmitted STD, and still continues to be on the rise. In 2008, there were 1,219,523 new chlamydia cases. [4]
  • In 2009 there were 1,244,180 chlamydial infections reported to the CDC from each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. [3]

Chlamydia—Rates by Age and Sex, United States, 2010 Chlamydia rates by race and sex.gif [8]



There are many different ways to test for chlamydia. Some include having the vagina or pelvic swabbed for discharge and used in nucleic acid probe tests, nucleic acid amplification tests, fluorescent antibody tests, and enzyme immunoassay (EIA). The EIA test is able to detect for chlamydia genes and antigens. [11]

The most common type of treatment for a chlamydia infection is azithromycin and is to only be taken once. [5] Another type of treatment is doxycycline, but instead this treatment is to be taken for a full week. [5]

Prevention of catching chlamydia can include using condoms (for men and women), abstinence from sex, but most importantly when ready to make the commitment to being sexually active, make sure that your partner has been tested and is STD free. Practicing monogamy is another way an individual may prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted chlamydia.

The World Health Organization has endorsed SAFE which was designed as an innovative way to approach preventing and treating trachoma. [10] With having implemented SAFE, millions of lives have been improved with the help in trying to eliminate trachoma. [10] Through the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI) treatments, as of 2010, Pfizer has donated 225 million Zithromax®. [10] Currently Pfizer has donated Zithromax® to 19 different countries, but hopes to be up to 42 countries by 2015. [10] Not only does SAFE help and ITI prevent and eliminate trachoma, but it also helps prevent and eliminate poverty. By helping reduce the entering of trachoma into a household, the family has no worries about financial strain in order to help care for an infected individual. [10]

SAFE.jpeg [10]

Related Diseases/Sequelae

If left untreated, some diseases that can stem from having chlamydia in women include Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), infertility, and ectopic pregnancy. In men, if left untreated the possibility of leading to inflammation of the urethra called urethritis.

Fallopian tubes.jpeg [12]

Also, with chlamydia may come other sexually transmitted diseases (STD's), so if one is diagnosed with chlamydia, screening for other STD's may not be a bad idea.

If trachoma is left untreated, the eyelashes have a tendency to invert inward, causing the eyelashes to create scarring on the cornea. [9] Although individuals many have similar conditions, it is sometimes unclear as to why some people may develop more scarring than others. [10] Research shows that cellular immune response is an important role of the human immune system that influences the intracellular survival of chlamydia. [10] Constant presence of chlamydial antigens often causes damage to the skin due to a hypersensitivity reaction. [10] Another factor that may influence the intracellular survival of chlamydia is the strength of eyelid muscles and thickness of the tarsal plate (provides eyelid with stability). [10] Once the eyelashes become introverted and start rubbing against the eyeball, it is then that the eyeball becomes more susceptible to infectious ulcers, scarring, and blindness. [10]

Chlamydia prevention.gif [13]


[1] Ojcius, David M., Toni Darville, and Patrik M. Bavoil. "Can Chlamydia Be Stopped?." Scientific American 292.5 (2005): 72-79. Science & Technology Collection. Web. 8 Nov. 2011.

[2] "Chlamydial pneumonia." Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD. and Rebecca J. Frey, PhD. The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Ed. Jacqueline L. Longe. 3rd ed. Detroit: Gale, Online update, 2007. 5 vols. Updated October 2009. 8 Nov. 2011.

[3] "STD Facts - Chlamydia." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. 09 Nov. 2011. <>.

[4] "FASTSTATS - Sexually Transmitted Diseases." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. 10 Nov. 2011. <>.

[5] "Chlamydia Information, Testing & Home Test Kit." STD Testing Clinic, Tests for Herpes, Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea - GUM Clinic. Web. 28 Nov. 2011. <>.

[6] "Chlamydia Trachomatis." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. <>.

[7] "Chlamydia." PubMed Health. Ed. Linda J. Vorvick, Susan Storck, and David Zieve. National Center for Biotechnology Information, 7 June 2010. Web. 03 Dec. 2011. <>.

[8] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2010. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2011. 30 Nov. 2011. <>.

[9] "Disease Listing, Trachoma, Technical Information | CDC Bacterial, Mycotic Diseases." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 24 Oct. 2005. Web. 03 Dec. 2011. <>.

[10] A World Free of Blinding Trachoma: | International Trachoma Initiative. Web. 03 Dec. 2011. <>.

[11] Madigan, Michael T., John M. Martinko, David A. Stahl, and David P. Clark. Biology of Microorganisms. San Francisco: Benjamin Cummins, 2006.

[12] "Symptoms of Chlamydia In Men and Women." - Health Info. WordPress. Web. 04 Dec. 2011. <>.

[13] "Trachoma Control and Prevention - Carter Center Trachoma Control Program." The Carter Center: Advancing Human Rights and Alleviating Suffering. Web. 04 Dec. 2011. <>.

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