What is Chlamydia?


Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted disease or STD. It is caused by a bacteria named Chlamydia trachomatis which only infects humans. It falls under family- Chlamydiaceae, genus Chlamydia and species of trachomatis. A Chlamydia infection can come from any bacteria of the Chlamydiaceae family. As per the specific nature of the bacterium the symptoms may have minor variations.

Facts about Chlamydia

Chlamydia is very common in the human race. It’s  the most widespread STD in USA, UK, and most European countries. It’s  even more widespread in the developing and under-developed countries and is a major reason for high infant mortality and infertility in both men and women. In the USA alone 1,307,893 cases were reported in 2010. The CDC received the report of these cases from 50 states and the District of Columbia. This is certainly not the actual figure of real infections as most of the cases go unreported for multiple reasons.

It is estimated that 2.8 million Chlamydia infections occur in the U.S per year. Women are considered the hardest hit sex because they are very prone to any STI, especially bacteria based STDs. Even after a cure, they get easily re-infected if their partner is not treated along with them. So, it’s imperative that in case of a Chlamydia infection, both the spouses are treated together.

In the UK, however, the number of cases is far less but it’s still the most commonly diagnosed STI. As an example, in 2004, there were 104,733 new Chlamydia cases which rose to 109,958 new diagnoses in 2005. The National Health Service, UK claims that those who are sexually active among women under the age of 25 have a 10% chance of becoming infected with Chlamydia. Recurring Cases of Chlamydia infection are very common among women aged 14-19. The age range for a male who falls under the infection risk is between 20 – 30 years.

A Chlamydia infection primarily affects two distinct areas in humans; the genito-urinary system and the eyes. In cases of gay-sex where anal sex is frequent, chlamydia of the anus can be seen. In such cases, there can be anal itching and a transparent discharge from the anus.

Chlamydia of the anus can be present in women also. If a woman indulges in anal intercourse with a man infected with chlamydia, there’s a chance of her getting infected with it. However, in common cases, Chlamydia in women manifests as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or PID.

chlamydia trachomatis infection in the eye

Trachoma due to chlamydia

However, this infection is mainly treated as STD. Both men and women develop different sets of symptoms as they inherit different sexual systems.

Chlamydia symptoms are very mild and very difficult to notice. To ascertain an infection one has to undergo a Chlamydia test.


Chlamydia trachomatis

This bacterium is an intracellular parasite. After it enters the host cell, it thrives and then replicates. It attacks the cervix first and causes mucopurulent endocervicitis in female sexual organs. In case of a male, it attacks the urethra and causes mucopurulent urethritis. There is a pus-like discharge from the urethra which can be transparent, translucent, white, bloody white or muddy white. However, in most of the cases, the STI is asymptotic and does not manifest any perceptible or painful symptoms.

In eyes, it causes conjunctivitis and trachoma. Either Chlamydia trachomatis or certain subtypes of this bacterium cause these eye infections. It can also affect the eyes of a newborn infant if the mother is infected with Chlamydia. The symptoms resemble a mucopurulent bloody discharge and redness and swelling in the eyes. It is capable of partial to complete blindness and death in case of infants.

Trachoma generally starts as mild to intense itching and irritation to both the eye and eyelids. There can be associated symptoms such as redness and photophobia or blurred vision. When the condition of the eye deteriorates, there can be transparent mucous-like discharge or white or yellow pus-like discharge.

Life cycle of chlamidia trachomatis bacteria

Chlamydia Trachomatis life cycle

Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria propagates with its elementary body(EB). It is the low infective stage of the bacteria. The EB gets attached to the human cell and then penetrates the cell membrane. Then the trachomatis EB uses the RNA and cell protein to form its own reticulate body(RB) with its own micromolecule of DNA, RNA, and protein. After some gestation period(during which the bacteria reorganizes from RB to EB), approximately 40 to 50 hours, it produces Lysis of the cells and breaks open the cell membrane and discharges the EBs. Then the EBs get attached to the cell receptors of healthy cells and the process repeats.

Chlamydia is curable. It’s treated with antibiotics. First, you must ascertain its infection by STD testing.