Trichomonas vaginalis is a flagellate that infects the urogenital tract of humans. The parasite is sexually transmitted and causes a variety of pathology in women, ranging from asymptomatic to frothy green vaginal discharge and painful sexual intercourse. While men can become infected and transmit this parasiite, they typically show no symptoms.
Trichomonas vaginalis has a simple life cycle of direct transmission between human hosts. T. vaginalis exists as a trophozoite on the mucosal surfaces of the human urogenital tract, which includes the vagina and the orifice of the urethra in women, and the urethra and prostate in men, where the parasite replicates through longitudinal binary fission. Transmission occurs via vaginal and prostatic secretions, as well as through urine, primarily during sexual intercourse. The parasite, which possesses no cyst form, can only survive outside of the human reproductive tract in a moist environment.
Rojas et al. (2004) used RAPDs markers to identify genetic groupings within Trichomonas vaginalis, in order to assess whether clinical effects could be attributed to genetic differences among strains of the parasite. They grouped patients into four categories according to the intensity of the symptoms they experienced, and sampled isolates from 10 individuals in each group. They identified four genetically distinct strains of T. vaginalis, which perfectly matched a priori clinical groupings, suggesting that clinical effects are largely due to genetic differeneces among parasite strains.
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