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Chlamydia is one of the most widespread sexually transmitted infections in the world, but very few people are aware that there is more than one strain and that, given the right circumstances, a more resistant type could be created.
According to a study published in Nature Genetics, current chlamydia tracking methods have pitfalls that could mean that scientists are unable to keep track of the different strains of chlamydia within a population. This is slightly worrying, as although there aren’t any resistant strains, they do occur under laboratory conditions, which means that, given the right circumstances, they could occur in the general population.
Commenting on the research, professor Ian Clarke, senior author from the University of Southampton, Faculty of Medicine, said that, in spite of chlamydia being the most common STI in the world, there were gaps in knowledge of the different strains currently in circulation.
Currently, when a person is diagnosed with chlamydia, the clinical data collected will only indicate whether a person has the infection or not, but not the particular strain a person has been diagnosed with. This means that, should a person test positive again after receiving treatment, it’s normally assumed that re-infection has occurred and there is no further research conducted into the possibility of whether the person could have had a slightly more resistant strain of the infection.
The study highlights that genome sequencing would be a more effective way to monitor the spread of chlamydia through populations and researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, that funded the study, are currently working on bringing this type of technology to hospitals.