Can Salmon Get Chlamydia? Is It Possible?

Can Salmon Get Chlamydia

The question “Can Salmon Get Chlamydia?” may initially seem absurd or even funny because it suggests that salmon can have a human-like disease.

But, when looked at scientifically, it raises an important discussion about how diseases spread between different species and ecosystems. It’s important to understand that Chlamydia is not just a human disease, but a complex group of infections that can impact various organisms in different ways.

In this article, we will discuss the world of cross-species infections and focus on the possibility of salmon contracting Chlamydia.

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection caused by the Chlamydiaceae family. There are 3 kinds of bacteria in this family that cause infections in humans: Chlamydia trachomatis, Chlamydia psittaci, and Chlamydia pneumoniae.

These bacteria cause a lot of diseases, like sexually transmitted infections, pneumonia, and psittacosis – a rare infectious disease that mainly affects parrots but can also infect humans, causing flu-like symptoms and pneumonia (lung infection) (1).

In animals, Chlamydia infections are quite common. For example, Koalas are known to be severely affected by Chlamydia, which causes diseases that can lead to blindness, infertility, and death (2).

How does chlamydia affect humans and animals?

Chlamydia mainly affects humans and animals by damaging their host cells. The bacteria infiltrate the cells of the host, multiply within them and eventually cause the cells to rupture, releasing the bacteria to infect other cells.

In humans, Chlamydia trachomatis mainly infects the cells of the urogenital tract which causes diseases like urethritis, cervicitis, and pelvic inflammatory disease.

When a person has a chlamydial infection, it usually affects adults who are sexually active. However, if a mother is infected during delivery, she can pass the infection to her newborn baby. About 30% to 50% of babies born to an infected mother will develop neonatal conjunctivitis, also known as ophthalmia neonatorum (3).

One common characteristic of Chlamydia infections, both in humans and animals, is their ability to persist in a latent state.

This means that the bacteria can stay inactive in the body for a long time and can become active again under specific circumstances. This can cause repeated infections and ongoing health problems.

Can salmon get chlamydia?

Yes, salmon can get Chlamydia. Scientists discovered a type called Chlamydia psittaci in Atlantic salmon farmed in Norway. They confirm that this bacteria can live in a new host and environment (4).

The group of bacteria called Chlamydiales, which includes Chlamydiaceae, is actually much larger than we originally believed. It includes different types that can infect various hosts like amoebae, insects, and even fish.

The specific strain found in salmon is different from the ones that usually infect humans and other mammals. However, the discovery highlights the potential for cross-species transmission and the need for ongoing monitoring and research.

Please note that the Chlamydia found in salmon is not harmful to humans who eat the fish. Cooking the salmon thoroughly removes any possible bacteria, ensuring it is safe to consume. In the next section, we will explain how you can cook the salmon safely to get rid of any bacteria.

However, the discovery of Chlamydia in salmon raises concerns because it could affect the health of farmed fish and impact commercial fisheries. Scientists are still studying the effects on human health, animal health, and ecosystems.

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How does chlamydia get into salmon?

Chlamydia gets into salmon mostly through environmental exposure. The bacteria reside in the water, soil, and even in other organisms.

Salmon, being waterborne creatures, naturally come into contact with these bacteria in their aquatic environment. When the bacteria attach to the salmon they enter the fish’s body. It usually through its gills or mouth, and begins the infection process.

This way of spreading shows how ecosystems are connected and reminds us to keep an eye on the health of all species in an area to control and prevent diseases.

Health risks associated with salmon and chlamydia

The Chlamydia found in salmon does not directly harm humans, but it could affect marine ecosystems and the salmon farming industry.

Infections can weaken salmon, reducing their overall population and impacting biodiversity. Plus, infected salmon can also spread bacteria to other species which we call zoonotic transmission.

From an industry perspective, if infections become widespread then it could reduce the amount of salmon produced and affect the livelihoods of people in the salmon farming industry.

Remember, consuming salmon infected with Chlamydia is not harmful to humans as cooking thoroughly kills the bacteria. However, it’s still essential to follow safe handling and cooking practices to prevent other food-borne illnesses.

Factors that affect salmon health

Salmon health is affected by numerous factors which include:

  1. Water Quality: Salmon require clean, cold, and oxygen-rich water to thrive. High levels of pollutants, temperature variations, or low oxygen levels can cause stress, poor health, and even death.
  2. Diet: Proper nutrition is important for salmon to grow and resist disease. If fish don’t get enough important nutrients in their diet, they can become weak and more likely to get infections, including Chlamydia.
  3. Disease Exposure: Diseases like Chlamydia can spread quickly among densely populated salmon farms. The risk of disease worsens if farms are not properly maintained or if biosecurity measures are not in place.
  4. Environmental Stressors: Other things that stress out salmon, like too many fish in one place, being moved around a lot or dealing with bad weather. This can make their immune system weaker and make them more likely to get sick.

Tips for safe cooking to protect yourself

To enjoy salmon safely and reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses, follow these tips:

  1. Proper Storage: Always store salmon at 40°F or below to inhibit bacterial growth. Use it within one to two days of purchasing.
  2. Thorough Cleaning: Before and after handling raw salmon, wash your hands and any surfaces or utensils used to prevent cross-contamination.
  3. Safe Defrosting: Defrost salmon in the refrigerator rather than at room temperature. If you need to melt it quickly, use the defrost function on your microwave or place the fish in a sealed plastic bag and immerse it in cold water.
  4. Proper Cooking: Cook salmon to an internal temperature of at least 145°F (63°C), measured at the thickest part of the fish.
  5. Prompt Consumption: Consume cooked salmon immediately and refrigerate leftovers within two hours.


In conclusion, while it has been found that salmon can get a special type of Chlamydia, it doesn’t pose any direct danger to human health. The bacteria can be efficiently eliminated through proper cooking techniques.

However, chlamydia in salmon is a concern for marine ecosystems and the salmon farming industry. It highlights the need for healthy aquatic environments, safe farming practices, and ongoing research on bacterial transmission. As consumers, we can also play our part by ensuring safe handling and cooking practices to maintain food safety standards.


Can shrimp give you chlamydia?

No, shrimp cannot give you chlamydia. The Chlamydia bacteria found in marine species is different from the strain that infects humans. However, it’s always crucial to properly cook seafood to eliminate potential foodborne pathogens.

Can salmon get chlamydia in California?

Yes, salmon in California can also get Chlamydia. The bacteria is present in various environments and isn’t geographically restricted. However, proper farming practices and biosecurity measures can help manage the risk.

Can chlamydia come from sperm?

Yes, Chlamydia can be transmitted through semen during unprotected sex with an infected person. This particularly applies to the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria, which is responsible for Chlamydia infections in humans. Chlamydia is also spread through sexual activities like vaginal, anal, and oral sex. The infection can be transmitted through semen (cum), pre-cum, and vaginal fluids.

Can chlamydia live on food?

No, chlamydia cannot live on food it is a sexually transmitted infection in humans. The bacteria causing this infection are mainly transmitted through sexual contact, not through food or water. The strain of Chlamydia that affects marine animals, including salmon, is different from the one that infects humans.


The information provided in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Don’t ignore professional medical advice or put off seeking it just because of something you read here. Although we aim to offer precise and current information, we do not guarantee its completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability for any purpose. Using the information in this document is at your own risk. We are not responsible for any losses or damages caused by our content.

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