Medicine (MD/DO)
Gram Negative Coccobacilli
Chlamydia Characteristics

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Chlamydia Characteristics

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Chlamydia Characteristics

Chlamydia Clam
Chlamydia is an obligate intracellular bacterium whose cell wall lacks muramic acid. It classically infects mucosal surfaces. The classic chlamydia infection is of the urethra and conjunctiva but can also be in the lungs. The bacteria cannot make its own ATP which limits its ability to exist outside the cell. The life cycle typically consists of an intracellular replicating period as reticulate bodies then an extracellular infective phase as elementary bodies. Chlamydia do not gram stain and instead can be visualized on giemsa stain. Treatment includes azithromycin and doxycycline.
Cannot Make ATP
Empty ATP-battery Pack

Chlamydia lacks the ability to make ATP and therefore cannot survive on its own. Therefore, it is an obligate intracellular bacterium.

Elementary body infects
Elephants chasing and infecting others

Elementary bodies are bacterial life cycle components which can exist outside the body and are infective by attaching and entering into host cells.


Epithelial cells are the classic target of chlamydia infections, and they are able to form reticulate bodies within the cells.

Reticulate Body Replicates

Reticulate bodies replicate within the cell by binary fission which results in a large inclusion body. The reticulate body is the replicating component of the bacterial life cycle.

Cell Wall Lacks Muramic Acid
Mirror and Acidic-lemon on a NO sign

The cell wall lacks muramic acid. Therefore, these organisms do not stain with gram stain.

Giemsa Stain

Giemsa stain can lead to a diagnosis of chlamydia infection with the visualization of cytoplasmic inclusions on giemsa stain.

Inclusion Bodies

Multiple reticulate bodies replicate in the cell by binary fission, which creates a cytoplasmic inclusion within the infected cell. These inclusions can be seen on giemsa stain.

Azithromycin (Preferred)

Azithromycin is used to treat a chlamydia infection and is preferred due to the one time administration of 1g by mouth. Azithromycin is a macrolide antibiotic.


Doxycycline is used to treat a chlamydia infection. Doxycycline is a tetracycline antibiotic.


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