Chlamydia is one of the most common Sexually Transmitted Infections in the UK and indeed around the world. It is easy to transmit and easy to catch, but some individuals seem to catch it more often than others. Researchers have asked the question why this might be, and have come up with an interesting hypothesis.
Observations in the animal world, with some reports dating back as far as the 1950’s, showed that some animals can carry a Chlamydia infection in their gut. Treatment with the normal course of antibiotics does seem to clear up Chlamydia infections in the genital tracts, but in some instances seems to fail to clear it up if a gut infection is involved. This observation has raised the intriguing question whether the same might be true in people.
Is it possible then, that at least some of the cases of Chlamydia, in particular those which are recurrent in certain individuals actually come from what is called “auto-innoculation” and not from a new exposure to the bacteria? It would seem that this is a distinct possibility. The research has been conducted by Roger G. Rank and Laxmi Yeruva and published in the journal of the American Society for Microbiology in 2014.
If this is borne out by further research, it would raise a number of issues which are not currently considered when treating people with a Chlamydia infection. For example, why is it that an intestinal infection of Chlamydia is harder to treat than one localized in the genitals? Also, is “auto-innoculation” more prevalent amongst women that it is in men, and if so, why?
Clearly, there is still much to be learned about this STI and where and how it can infect us. In any event, keeping yourself safe is always the place to start, and that includes practicing safer sex and getting yourself tested on a regular basis. And if you are amongst the many that have had more than one Chlamydia infection, it is particularly important to get tested regularly as you may just be re-infecting yourself.