Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Trichomonas vaginalis

Trichomonas vaginalis is a parasitic protozoan, and causes the sexually-transmitted disease known as trichomoniasis.  T. vaginalis is also one of the leading causes of vaginitis.  Trichomoniasis is thought, by the World Health Organization, to be the most prevalent protozoan infection in the world, with over 180 million cases annually, and over 5 million in North America.  Though, according to the Department of Natural Resources, trichomoniasis is incredibly prevalent in birds, this blog will focus on the human aspect.

The following link willl take you to the State of Michigan DNR, which has conducted many studies on the effects of Trichomoniasis in birds.
[http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10370_12150_12220-27288--,00.html]


Please allow a brief disclaimer. I understand that this blog is not meant for those with weak stomachs, but the pictures associated with this STD are just generally unpleasant...trust me. I will post a couple of links in case you are interested.

This flagellated protozoan does not have a very complicated lifestyle.  As a sexually-transmitted parasite, T. vaginalis lives within the urethra of an infected male, or within the lower genital tract of and infected woman.  Because T. vaginalis has no cyst form, it cannot exist effectively outside of the host. It can live for only a day or so if submerged in water, semen, or urine.  However, it indeed overcomes this fragile lifestyle by persisting via sexual transmission.

Two Trichomonas vaginalis parasites, magnified (seen under a microscope) 
Two cultured examples of T. vaginalis.  These protozoa use their multiple flagella for movement.
 http://www.cdc.gov/std/trichomonas/STDFact-Trichomoniasis.htm

Contrasting the typical pattern of other parasites, men are LESS likely to develop trichomoniasis than women.  Though testosterone typically serves as an immunosuppressant, women infected with T. vaginalis are more likely to develop trichomoniasis.  Though, according to the CDC, about 3.7 million people are infected, only 30% or so actually show symptoms.  It is not clear why a minority of those infected show symptoms, but perhaps that can be attributed to other characteristics discussed in class, such as the person's overall health and age.  Infected men might experience urethral irritation and swelling, along with a characteristic discharge.  Infected women can also experience irritation and swelling (sometimes referred to as "strawberry cervix"), as well as a frothy discharge.  This discharge can bee used for examination and diagnosis.

This is one of the least glaringly gross pictures I could find. The especially disturbing ones will simply be in the form of hyperlinks.

http://www2a.cdc.gov/stdtraining/self-study/images/vaginitis/vag-s5.gif

If you would like to look at the gross ones...here they are:
http://healthinformationfamily.com/health365days/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/trichomonass.jpg
http://reveal4real.org/images/STDs/trich.png
http://www.google.com/imgres?start=102&num=10&hl=en&safe=off&gbv=2&biw=1440&bih=799&tbm=isch&tbnid=KUxXwqHyydwXoM:&imgrefurl=http://www.consultantlive.com/sexually-transmitted-diseases/content/article/10162/34856&docid=QBbz-p3c99zY7M&imgurl=http://imaging.cmpmedica.com/consultantlive/images/articles/2002/08012002/0208ConPCUStd3F2.jpg&w=400&h=262&ei=5QZFT8jJHOTX0QHA2uyEBA&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=175&vpy=224&dur=6521&hovh=182&hovw=278&tx=119&ty=117&sig=116419919040292482809&sqi=2&page=4&tbnh=140&tbnw=187&ndsp=35&ved=0CKwCEK0DMEc4Hw


Though trichomoniasis can be treated with antibiotics, the disease is still dangerous.  Pregnant mothers who carry the disease can be vulnerable to early-onset birth, which of course can result in many complications in the health and development of the child. Furthermore, as the parasite typically resides in the mother's vagina, the child risks infection as well.  The CDC estimates that 124,000 pregnant women are infected with trichomoniasis every year, making it the fourth most common STD in pregnant women (http://www.cdc.gov/std/pregnancy/STDFact-Pregnancy.htm).

Furthermore, the swelling and irritation caused by trichomoniasis can lead to an increased probability of infection with HIV/AIDS.  HIV/AIDS is of course a very prevalent global health concern.  This increased susceptibility shows just how dangerous this sexually transmitted parasite can be, and indeed shows how this parasite can alter society.  Though this disease is easily treated, failure or inability to do so can increase the risk to spread a much more deadly disease.


Sources:
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov/std/trichomonas/STDFact-Trichomoniasis.htm

http://trichomonasvaginalis.org/

The World Health Organization

Michigan State District of Natural Resources



9 comments:

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