Chlamydia

What is chlamydia?
Chlamydia trachomatis is the most common bacterial
sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the United States.

Chlamydia affects approximately three million women
nationally and 300,000 women in California. California also
has the highest number of estimated cases of chlamydia in
the nation among women 15-34 years of age.

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In addition, teenagers and young adults under 25 years
of age have the highest rates of infection and complications
attributed to the disease. Among adolescents 15-19 years of
age, it is estimated that one in ten is infected. It should be
noted, however, that chlamydia crosses all ethnicities,
economic and social classes, and geographic lines. Early
detection and treatment of chlamydia is crucial since up to
70 percent of women and 50 percent of men with chlamydia
have no detectable symptoms.


How does someone get chlamydia?
Chlamydia is transmitted through sexual contact
(primarily vaginal or anal) with an infected person.
What are the risk factors for chlamydia?
The primary risk factors for chlamydia include:
Engaging in
Having sex with more than one partner
Being in a sexual relationship with someone who
has multiple sex partners
How can you protect yourself from
getting chlamydia?
The chance of becoming infected with chlamydia
can be reduced by avoiding risky sexual behaviors. You
can get and spread chlamydia through unprotected
vaginal and anal sex. Preventing chlamydia means
approaching sexual relationships responsibly: limit the
number of your sex partners, use condoms, and if you
think you are infected, avoid any sexual contact and visit
a local STD clinic, hospital, or your doctor. Be sure your
partner is treated to avoid becoming reinfected. You can
also prevent getting Chlamydia by:
Use latex or polyurethane condoms during sex
Limit your number of sex partners
If you have recently been treated or are being treated
for chlamydia infection, you must make sure your sex
partner(s) also receives treatment in order to prevent
getting infected again. Sex partners should receive
treatment even if they do not have any symptoms.
What are some symptoms of chlamydia?
About 75% of women and 50% of men with chlamydia
have no symptoms of infection.
In women, symptoms of chlamydia may include:
An unusual vaginal discharge
Bleeding after intercourse
Bleeding between menstrual periods
Abdominal or pelvic pain
In men, symptoms of chlamydia may include:
Discharge from the penis
Burning with urination
Swollen and/or painful testicles
Can infection with chlamydia lead to
other health problems?
When left untreated, chlamydia can increase the risk
of acquiring or transmitting , the virus that causes .
In women, untreated chlamydia can spread into the
pelvic area and infect the uterus, fallopian tubes, and
ovariesleading to . The symptoms of PID include:
Abdominal pain
Lower back pain
Pain with intercourse
Bleeding between periods
Fever
PID can be a very serious condition and requires
immediate medical care. It may cause permanent
damage to the woman’s reproductive organs and can
lead to infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and an increased
risk of ectopic pregnancy.
In men, untreated chlamydia can affect the testicles,
leading to swelling and pain. Related complications can
lead to infertility.
What is the impact of chlamydia on
pregnancy?
Chlamydia can be passed from mother to baby during
birth. Chlamydia infection in newborns can cause
neonatal conjunctivitis (an infection of the baby’s eyes)
and pneumonia. Without prompt medical treatment, the
infant’s eyes can be seriously and permanently
damaged.
How is chlamydia diagnosed?
There are a variety of laboratory tests that can be
used to diagnose chlamydia infection. Tests are done
with either a urine sample or a sample obtained from a
woman’s cervix or a man’s urethra, using a cotton
swab.
Is there a treatment or cure for
chlamydia?
Chlamydia can be treated with the antibiotics
doxycycline or azithromycin. Urine tests for both males
and females are available to detect chlamydia.There has
been major progress in the treatment of chlamydia with
antibiotics over the past few years. A single dose of
azithromycin or a week of doxycycline (twice daily) are
the most commonly used treatments. (For the U.S. only)
Common side effects associated with these treatments
include diarrhea (7%), nausea (5%), abdominal pain (5%),
and vomiting (2%).


Chlamydia can be easily treated and cured with
antibiotics. Because men and women infected with
chlamydia often also have , treatment for gonorrhea is
often provided as well. It is important to make sure your
sex partner(s) also receives treatment in order to
prevent getting infected again. Avoid having sex while
being treated to reduce the chances of getting the
infection again or transmitting it to someone else.
Chlamydia trachomatis is the most common bacterial
sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the United States.

Chlamydia affects approximately three million women
nationally and 300,000 women in California. California also
has the highest number of estimated cases of chlamydia in
the nation among women 15-34 years of age.

In addition, teenagers and young adults under 25 years
of age have the highest rates of infection and complications
attributed to the disease. Among adolescents 15-19 years of
age, it is estimated that one in ten is infected. It should be
noted, however, that chlamydia crosses all ethnicities,
economic and social classes, and geographic lines. Early
detection and treatment of chlamydia is crucial since up to
70 percent of women and 50 percent of men with chlamydia
have no detectable symptoms.

Effects of Chlamydia
Chlamydia is the leading cause of preventable infertility
in women.


Chlamydia causes Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. A
significant number of women with PID will eventually
develop potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy, chronic
pelvic pain, and infertility.


Pregnant women may transmit chlamydia to their
newborn during delivery. Up to five percent of infants
born in the United States are infected with chlamydia.

Complications of untreated infections in newborns
include conjunctivitis and pneumonia.


Questions for you to ask your healthcare
provider about chlamydia:
What does the treatment involve?
Can you prescribe a single-dose medication to treat
chlamydia?
How soon will the symptoms subside?
When is it okay for me to be (safely) sexually active
again?
How can I make sure that my partner gets tested and/or
receives treatment?
The Urine Test
The urine test, called LCR for ligase chain reaction,
was developed by Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Park, Ill.

The test is awaiting approval from the Food and Drug
Administration before it will be put on the market.
The LCR test, which requires a urine sample, will
be relatively easy to administer. “The conventional
tests for chlamydia require a pelvic exam and a swab
from inside the cervix, much like a Pap smear,” said
Ault.
“LCR screening means that testing for chlamydia
can become more widely available,” he said. Once on
the market, “Every physician’s office can have it. It can
be put in places that previously have been hard to
screen like high school clinics.”
According to preliminary data published in the
Lancet, a British medical journal, the sensitivity of the
LCR test is 94 percent. In the field tests, Ault will
compare the results of the LCR test against a
conventional test. The study is funded by the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Office
of Population Affairs (OPA). Ault is the medical advisor
for Region VII of the Chlamydia Control Project, a
collaborative effort of the CDC and OPA. Region VII
includes Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska.
About 4 million cases of chlamydia infection occur
annually in the United States. The cost of the illness
exceeds $5 billion, according to Ault.
Chlamydia infection is responsible for 30 percent
of cases of infertility worldwide and is a major cause
of ectopic or tubal pregnancies. Tubal pregnancy, in
which the fertilized egg develops in one of the two
fallopian tubes instead of the uterus, is the leading
cause of death in pregnancy. Chlamydia rarely has
symptoms, so often a patient finds out about an
infection after the damage has been done.
Infected pregnant women may deliver early or
suffer pelvic infections after delivery. Babies born to
infected mothers can develop pneumonia or eye
inflammation.
For men, chlamydia is the leading cause of urethral
infections. A urine test for chlamydia in men is already
on the market.
Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics. There is no
immunity to chlamydia infection. A person can become
re-infected when re-exposed to it.


Basic Information
Chlamydia is a genus of microscopic organisms
that cannot be categorized as virus, bacteria, or fungi
but that behave like bacteria. There are three species
of chlamydia: Chlamydia trachomatis, Chlamydia
pneumoniae, and Chlamydia psittaci.

Perhaps the most common chlamydia illnesses
are diseases caused by many strains of the
trachomatis species. One strain of Chlamydia
trachomatis causes conjunctivitis, an eye infection
marked by redness and swelling, sensitivity to light,
and pus discharge. A strain of fly-borne Chlamydia
trachomatis causes a severe form of conjunctivitis
called trachoma. More common in developing
countries, untreated trachoma may result in blindness.

Each year in the United States, Chlamydia
trachomatis causes 4 million cases of sexually
transmitted diseases (STDs) in both men and women,
including nongonococcal urethritis (NGU), an infection
of the urinary tract. Lymphogranuloma venereum, a
lymphatic tissue disease that is rare in the United
States, occurs more commonly in tropical regions.

In both men and women symptoms of sexually
transmitted Chlamydia trachomatis may include a
watery discharge and pain when urinating; in women
Chlamydia trachomatis also causes inflammation of
the vagina, cervix, uterus, Fallopian tubes, and
ovaries. Women may also experience vaginal
discharge, fever, abdominal pain, and pain in the
genital area. In as many as 50 to 70 percent of
Chlamydia trachomatis infections, however, women
experience no symptoms. As a result, the infection
remains untreated and may develop into more serious
conditions, including pelvic inflammatory disease,
ectopic pregnancy, and infertility. Pregnant women
with chlamydia infections can also pass it to their
babies during birth.

The pneumoniae species of chlamydia commonly
causes upper respiratory tract infections including
bronchitis, pneumonitis, and pharyngitis. It is the
second leading cause of pneumonia in the United
States in individuals from 5 to 35 years old. Spread by
person-to-person contact, symptoms of Chlamydia
pneumoniae infection may be mild, often consisting
only of a cough, fever, and increased production of
sputum, a mixture of saliva and other mucus from the
respiratory passages.

In rare cases, Chlamydia psittica causes a flulike
illness known as psittacosis or parrot
fevercommonly named because the organism is
carried mostly by parrots, parakeets, and lovebirds. It
may also be found in other birds, as well as in cats,
and occasionally in humans. Pet shop workers, bird
owners, poultry processing plant employees, and
other individuals who work around birds are most
likely to develop psittacosis.

All three types of chlamydia infections are
diagnosed with tests consisting of cell cultures used
to exclude other illnesses with similar symptoms, such
as gonorrhea, herpes, trichomoniasis, and
candidiasis. More recently, immunoassays are
typically used for diagnosis. These blood tests identify
the presence of a specific antibody formed by the
bodys immune system to fight off chlamydia infection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
recommends that all sexually active women under the
age of 20 and women over 20 years with risk factors
that include having multiplesex partners should
receive annual screening for chlamyida.

Chlamydia infections are easily treated with
antibiotics. In infections involving sexually transmitted
diseases, all sexual partners of the affected individual
must be treated to prevent reinfection; latex condoms
should also be used during intercourse to prevent
transmitting or receiving chlamydial infection.