- Chlamydiae are highly specialised obligate intracytoplasmic bacteria. They have a rigid cell wall similar to Gram-negative bacteria, contain both DNA and RNA, and are susceptible to certain antibiotics.
- There are two main species within the genus Chlamydia: C. trachomatis, which generally only infects man, and C. psittaci which can infect many species of animals and birds causing respiratory disease, abortions and arthritis.
- Although many species of animals and birds are susceptible to C. psittaci infection, there are different strains of the organism with different tropisms, pathogenicity and host specificity, and genomic differences suggest that they should really be regarded as different species.
- Thus, the feline disease is caused by a feline strain of C. psittaci, and except for isolated reports of its possible involvement in human conjunctivitis, the organism is generally considered to be species specific. The only animal species from which isolates of C. psittaci appear to have a clearly established zoonotic potential are birds and sheep.
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