Chlamydia Trachomatis Infection

Chlamydia trachomatis causes a sexually transmitted disease that in a majority of females (70%) and minority of males (25%) is without symptoms. 

When it is symptomatic, it involves a purulent discharge from the vagina or penis.

Complications of this illness include sterility, premature rupture of membranes and ectopic pregnancy. Large joint arthritis (Reiter’s syndrome) can also occur.

This infection frequently co-exists with gonorrhea.

Where does it occur?

It occurs worldwide.

How is it transmitted?

It is transmitted through sexual intercourse.

What is the risk for travelers?

The risk is generally low unless engaging in unprotected sexual intercourse.

How soon after exposure will I develop symptoms?

Symptoms develop anywhere from 7-14 days after exposure.

What are the signs and symptoms?

In women symptoms are usually of vaginal drainage, abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding and burning with urination. he cervix appears inflamed on exam. Infection can spread to the fallopian tubes resulting in PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) – that presents as fever, chills and severe pelvic pain.

In men symptoms are of penile discharge, burning with urination, or painful swollen testicles. Homosexual men may develop pain and swelling in the rectal area as well.

Weeks to months after an infection some can develop back pain, pelvic pain or swollen, painful joints in a syndrome called Reiter’s syndrome which is an inflammatory condition of the joints, not an infection.

Are there any lab tests to diagnose the illness?

Urine can be tested for Chlamydia by DNA PCR testing. It can also be cultured from swabs of the urethra.

Is there any treatment?

Antibiotics like Azithromycin or Doxycycline are effective treatments.

Is the infected person contagious?

YES !! How long a person is contagious is not known, perhaps 2 weeks after treatment one is likely not contagious. 

What preventive measures can be taken?

Avoid unprotected sexual activity with strangers.

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