Microcheck 258

Trichomoniasis is a protozoan STD that involves the genital tract; other protozoan STDs infect the intestine.

Table 25.16 Trichomoniasis


Women: itching, burning, swelling, vaginal redness, frothy, sometimes smelly, yellow-green discharge, and burning on urination. Men: discharge from penis, burning on urination, painful testes, tender prostate. Many women, most men asymptomatic

Incubation period

4 to 20 days

Causative agent

Trichomonas vaginalis, a protozoan with four anterior flagella, and a posterior flagellum attached to an undulating membrane; a rigid rodlike structure called an axostyle protrudes posteriorly; unmistakable jerky motility; no mitochondria; hydrogenosomes are present


Unexplained. Inflammatory changes and pinpoint hemorrhages suggest mechanical trauma from the motile organisms


Worldwide distribution; asymptomatic carriers foster spread; easily killed by drying due to lack of cyst form, transmission by intimate contact; high rate of infection with multiple sex partners. Newborn infants of infected mothers can acquire the infection at birth

Prevention and treatment

Abstinence, monogamy, and consistent use of condoms prevent the disease.Treatment: metronidazole

The causative agent is a peculiar flagellated protozoan that does not form cysts and lacks mitochondria. Organelles called hydrogenosomes produce hydrogen gas from pyruvate.

■ What significance does the lack of a cyst form of Trichomonas vaginalis have on the epidemiology of trichomoniasis?

■ Why is there a strong relationship between being "easily killed by drying" and "transmission usually by sexual contact"?

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