Chlamydia Infection is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by Chlamydia trachomatis, a bacteria which belong to the Chlamydiaceae C. trachomatis family found in humans. It is a major cause of eye and genital disease. It is one of the most common STD worldwide. In United States, an estimate of about one million individuals is infected with Chlamydia.
Chlamydia trachomatis is naturally found inside the human cells. It is transmitted via oral, vaginal and oral sex. An infected mother can also pass it to her baby during childbirth vaginally. Some women who have cervicitis caused by Chlamydia have no symptoms and don’t even know that they are infected. In males, they develop urethritis, an inflammation of the urethra which is symptomatic. The symptoms include dysuria or pain during urination and a white discharge in the penis. The condition may cause pelvic inflammatory disease in women. In this case, the infection has spread into the upper genital tract. In men, epididymitis or inflammation of the epididymis may occur.
Untreated Chlamydia infection causes serious problems in the reproductive system which can be either short or long term. It is also the common cause of blindness worldwide known as trachoma or Chlamydia conjunctivitis.
Signs and symptoms
Signs and symptoms vary depending on the infected body part.
· Genital disease
Chlamydia is also known as “Silent Epidemic” in women because it doesn’t show any symptoms in 75% of the cases and can be prolonged for months even years before it can be discovered. Symptoms may include: unusual vaginal discharge or bleeding, abdominal pain, dyspareunia or painful sexual intercourse, painful urination, urinary urgency and fever.
In men, inflammation of the urethra occurs. Symptoms include burning and painful urination, swollen testicles, fever and unusual penal discharge.
· Eye disease
Chlamydia conjunctivitis causes blindness. The infection is spread through shared towels, sneezing, coughing, eye-seeking flies and by rubbing of contaminated fingers to the eyes. Newborns can also develop eye infections during childbirth.
The NAAT or Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests such as transcription mediated amplification (TMA), polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and DNA strand displacement amplification (SDA) are some of the diagnostic tests done. A swab specimen from the cervix in women and urethra in men are collected through vaginal swabs or voided urine.
In years, the NAAT replaced the culture tests which are the gold standard and non-amplified probe test for diagnosing Chlamydia. The gold standard is insensitive and is only capable of detecting 60 – 80% of infections in women who are asymptomatic and often gives false positive results.
Chlamydia trachomatis are treated using antibiotics. The Centers for Disease Control provide the following as treatments:
· Azithromycin (1 gram as a single dose)
· Doxycycline (100 milligrams twice a day for 7 to 14 days)
For pregnant women, amoxicillin and erythromycin are recommended. Drugs such as beta-lactams are not good Chlamydia treatment. It can only stop the growth of bacteria but these antibiotics can’t eliminate it. The bacteria begin to grow again once the treatment is stopped.