What causes the disease and what is its pathogenicity mechanism?
The infectious agent of chlamydia is the bacteria chlamydia trachomatis, one of the species of the genus chlamydia, which also includes chlamydia psittaci and chlamydia pneumonie (important exponents of bacterial types of pneumonia that are difficult to treat).
Chlamydia trachomatis is much smaller in size than most bacteria, making it an obligatory intracellular microorganism because it has difficulty producing its own nutrients and requires the protein of other cells.
To survive, the microorganism requires a living eukaryotic cell (such as those of the genital mucosa) to provide them with nutritious substances while serving as a refuge from the external environment.
Once inside the cells, the cell wall of bacteria (with a highly antigenic substance called lipopolysaccharide or LPS) generates an immune response that translates into inflammation and irritation of the epithelial tissue of the vagina or penis with the presence of mucus and purulent secretions.
How is it transmitted?
Infection with chlamydia trachomatis occurs through sexual contact with mucous membranes or fluids infected with the bacteria.
This occurs through unprotected sex without barrier methods (such as a latex condom) between a woman and a man.
Statistically, the degree of transmissibility increases in people with homosexual sex or other unprotected sexual practices such as oral sex.
Also, having other sexually transmitted infections, especially if they cause genital blisters or ulcers (such as genital herpes or syphilis chancre), plays an important role in spreading the bacteria. This is because the integrity of the skin and mucous membranes is impaired and there is no protective barrier that prevents the direct passage of bacteria.
Genital mucosa is not the only one that can store and transmit bacteria. The oral or ocular mucous membranes can be a reservoir for disease. In these locations, the bacteria produce even more obvious and painful lesions.
Chlamydia can induce the formation of white skin plaques on the palate, larynx, or tongue.
Chlamydia causes a serious disease called ocular trachoma, which, if not treated in time, can lead to partial or total vision loss. There, the bacteria invade the ocular conjunctiva and the sclera, forming dense plaques of tissue that manifests itself as a common conjunctivitis: tearing, pain, itching and pus secretion. Blindness occurs when the bacteria infects the thin corneal membrane, weakening it and causing it to become opaque.
How can the bacteria reach the conjunctiva of the eye or mouth?
It is simple: it’s usually self-inoculation (rubbing the eyelids after touching the genitals and being infected with chlamydia trachomatis).
Mother-to-child transmission of chlamydia can also occur at birth time (vertical transmission).
The most frequent manifestations of chlamydia in newborns are neonatal conjunctivitis and bacterial pneumonia.