Chlamydia is a common term for infection with any bacteria belonging to the phylum Chlamydiae. This term derives from the name of the bacterial genus Chlamydia in the family Chlamydiaceae,orderChlamydiales, class and phylum Chlamydiae. The genus Chlamydia includes three species: Chlamydia trachomatis, Chlamydia muridarum, and Chlamydia suis. Chlamydia trachomatis infection is described below.
Chlamydia trachomatis is a major infectious cause of human eye and genital disease. C. trachomatis is naturally found living only inside human cells and is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in people worldwide ? about four million cases of Chlamydia occur in the United States each year. Not all infected people exhibit symptoms of Chlamydia. About half of all men and three-quarters of all women who have Chlamydia have no symptoms and do not know that they are infected. It can be serious but is easily cured with antibiotics if detected in time. Equally important, Chlamydia infection of the eye is the most common cause of preventable blindness in the world. Blindness occurs as a complication of trachoma (chlamydia conjunctivitis).
There are many other species of Chlamydiae that live in the cells of animals (including humans), insects, or protozoa. Two of these species cause lung infection in humans: Chlamydophila pneumoniae and Chlamydophila psittaci. Both of these species previously belonged to the genus Chlamydia.
Almost half of all women who get chlamydia and aren't treated by a doctor will get pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a generic term for infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and/or ovaries. PID can cause scarring inside the reproductive organs, which can later cause serious complications, including chronic pelvic pain, difficulty becoming pregnant, ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, and other dangerous complications of pregnancy. Chlamydia causes 250,000 to 500,000 cases of PID every year in the U.S.
Chlamydia is known as the "Silent Epidemic" because in women, it may not cause any symptom and will linger for months or years before being discovered. Symptoms that may occur include: unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge, pain in the abdomen, painful sexual intercourse, fever, painful urination or the urge to urinate more frequently than usual.
In men, chlamydia may not cause any symptoms, but symptoms that may occur include: a painful or burning sensation when urinating, an unusual discharge from the penis, swollen or tender testicles, or fever.
Chlamydia in men can spread to the testicles, causing epididymitis, which can cause sterility. Chlamydia causes more than 250,000 cases of epididymitis in the USA each year.
Chlamydia may also cause Reiter's Syndrome, a form of arthritis, especially in young men. About 15,000 men get Reiter's Syndrome from chlamydia each year in the USA, and about 5,000 are permanently affected by it.
As many as half of all infants born to mothers with chlamydia will be born with the disease. Chlamydia can affect infants by causing spontaneous abortion (miscarriage), premature birth, blindness, and pneumonia.
Current Centers for Disease Control guidelines provide for the following treatments:
* Azithromycin 1 gram oral as a single dose, or
* Doxycycline 100 milligrams twice daily for seven days.
Chlamydiae replicate intracellularly, within a membrane-bound structure termed an inclusion. It is inside this inclusion, which somehow avoids lysosomal fusion and subsequent degradation, that the metabolically inactive "elementary body" (EB) form of Chlamydia becomes the replicative "reticulate body" (RB). The multiplying RBs then become EBs again and burst out of the host cell to continue the infection cycle. Since Chlamydiae are obligate intracellular parasites, they cannot be cultured outside of host cells, leading to many difficulties in research.
Chlamydia trachomatis can cause the following conditions:
* Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome
* Lymphogranuloma venereum
* Pelvic inflammatory disease
* Pneumonia in infants
* Reiter's syndrome