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Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a genus of bacterial pathogens that includes Chlamydia trachomatis and Chlamydia pneumonia. C. pneumonia is a common cause of atypical pneumonia and C. trachomatis causes the most common sexually transmitted disease.

Chlamydia infection

Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States. Sexually active individuals and individuals with multiple partners are at highest risk. About 25% of men and 70% of women with chlamydia have no symptoms. In men, chlamydia infection can lead to inflammation of the urethra called urethritis. Chlamydia infections in women may lead to inflammation of the cervix. An untreated chlamydia infection may spread to the uterus or the fallopian tubes, causing salpingitis or pelvic inflammatory disease. These conditions can lead to infertility and increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy. Infection of a pregnant woman may spread to the uterus after delivery (late postpartum endometritis). In addition, the infant may develop chlamydia-related conjunctivitis (eye infection) and pneumonia.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of chlamydia infection involves sampling of the urethral discharge in males or cervical secretions in females. If an individual engages in anal sexual contact, samples from the rectum may also be needed. Traditionally samples are tested with a fluorescent or monoclonal antibody test, DNA probe test, or cell culture. Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT), such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and transcription mediated amplification (TMA) are now the routinely used to identify Chlamydia.

Treatment

Standard treatment for chlamydia is antibiotics, including tetracyclines, azithromycin, or erythromycin. Co-infection with gonorrhea or syphilis is common, so patients must be screened for other sexually transmitted diseases. All sexual contacts should be screened for chlamydia. Sexual partners must be treated to prevent passing the infection back and forth. There is no significant immunity following the infection and a person may become repeatedly infected. A follow-up evaluation may be done in 4 weeks to determine if the infection has been cured.

Prevention

There is no vaccine for Chlamydia. All sexually active women up through age 25 should be screened yearly for chlamydia. All women with new sexual partners or multiple partners should also be screened. A mutually monogamous sexual relationship with an uninfected partner is one way to avoid this infection. The proper use of condoms during intercourse usually prevents infection.

Recommended Reading

http://www.cdc.gov/STD/chlamydia/

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/chlamydia/DS00173

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001345.htm

Other Offerings

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