Chlamydia trachomatis and C. psittaci
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- Chlamydiae are obligate intracellular bacteria, possess both DNA and RNA (a characteristic that distinguishes them from viruses), and have a cell wall similar to that of gram-negative bacteria.
- These organisms have a complex reproductive cycle and exist in two forms.
- The elementary body (the infective form) is adapted for extracellular survival, while the reticulate body is adapted for intracellular survival and multiplication.
- Within 18–24 h after infection of the cell, reticulate bodies have replicated and begin to condense into elementary bodies that are released to infect other cells or people.
- Three chlamydial species infect humans: Chlamydia trachomatis, C. psittaci, and C. pneumoniae.
- CF tests and enzyme immunoassays that detect lipopolysaccharide identify chlamydiae only to the genus level.
- The microimmunofluorescence (MIF) test can differentiate among the three species.
- For a discussion of C. pneumoniae, see Chap. 97.