Zoom in on microorganisms

Germs that infect humans



© Illustration Bruno Laporte

Microorganism: genital chlamydiosis is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis.

Disease: chlamydia

Occurrence of the disease

Current situation: in Canada, chlamydia is the most prevalent bacterial disease that is sexually transmitted. In 1998, nearly 40,000 people were affected by chlamydia. However, since 1991, the number of reported cases has decreased.

Mechanism of action of the microorganism: the bacteria replicate inside cells in the genital area and cause the cells to burst.

Symptoms of the disease: sterility (inability to produce children) is a possible consequence of genital chlamydiosis. The other symptoms differ between men and women. In women, they consist of an inflammation of the interior of the cervix and the production of mucopurulent endocervical discharge. However, in 70% of cases, women are asymptomatic. In men, chlamydia manifests itself by a burning sensation on urination and itching of the urethra. In men, between one and 25% of cases are also asymptomatic.

Incubation period: possibly seven to 14 days

Contagious period: the contagious period is unknown but is probably intermittent.

Hosts: humans

Transmission: unprotected sexual relations. Chlamydia, which is transmitted by the L1 and L3 serotypes of C. trachomatis, is also known as lymphogranuloma venereum.

Discoverer of the microorganism: Neisser in 1879

Treatment: certain antibiotics such as tetracycline or erythromycin

Geographical distribution of the microorganism: worldwide, however, the disease is more prevalent in tropical regions.

Prevention: use of a condom during sexual relations; detection of the chlamydia-causing bacteria in adolescents and in sexually active young women.

Vaccine: not available