Chlamydia (say "cla-mid-ee-ah") is a bacteria (germ) men and women catch by having sex with someone who is infected. It can also be given to newborn babies by mothers who have a chlamydial infection during the last part of their pregnancy.
Children born of infected mothers may contract associated otitis media, pneumonia, and trachoma inclusion conjunctivitis during passage through the birth canal. Although trachoma inclusion conjunctivitis seldom occurs in the United States, it's a leading cause of blindness in Third World countries.
Transmission of C.trachomatis, an intracellular obligate bacterium, primarily follows vaginal or rectal intercourse or oral-genital contact with an infected person. Because signs and symptoms of chlamydial infections commonly appear late in the course of the disease, sexual transmission of the organism occurs unknowingly.
Signs and Symptoms
Different individuals experience different symptoms. Unfortunately 75% of women and 50% of men with the disease are experience no symptoms. When they do experience symptoms, the possible symptoms are: discharge from the penis or vagina and a burning sensation when urinating. Women may experience lower abdominal pain or pain during intercourse, bleeding during intercourse and bleeding between menstrual periods. Men may experience burning and itching around the opening of the penis and/or pain and swelling in the testicles. Symptoms may appear within one to three weeks after being infected.
Only a doctor or nurse can diagnose chlamydia. There are laboratory tests to diagnose chlamydia. Some tests involve getting a sample from an infected site (cervix or penis) to be tested for the bacteria. A urine test can also tell if you have the bacteria. A Pap test is not a test for chlamydia.
The recommended treatment for chlamydial infection consists of doxycycline or tetracycline. The patient can receive ofloxacin or azithromycin.
A patient with lymphogranuloma venereum needs extended treatment.
The only sure way to prevent developing a chlamydia infection is to abstain from sex or limit one's sexual relationship to a single, uninfected partner.
Make sure your friends have heard about the infection and its consequences. Encourage them to get a checkup if they think they may be at risk.
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