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The sexually transmitted disease chlamydia usually comes with no telltale symptoms, so most people don't even know when they are infected. Routine chlamydia screening and early, effective treatment are the keys to reducing chlamydia's toll, according to Penny Hitchcock, chief of the National Institutes of Health's sexually transmitted disease branch. Caused by the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria and transmitted during vaginal, oral or anal sexual contact with an infected partner, chlamydia is the most reported bacterial infection in the United States and the most common bacterial (and thus curable) sexually transmitted disease by far, ahead of gonorrhea and syphilis.
A person can become infected at any age, but "it's adolescents that we're most worried about," Hitchcock says. While wearing a condom may help reduce the risk of chlamydia, anyone who is sexually active can get the disease. Symptoms of chlamydia, when they occur, usually appear within one to three weeks of exposure.
Without treatment, the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, chlamydia can lead in up to 40 percent of cases to pelvic inflammatory disease, a serious infection of the woman's fallopian tubes that can also damage the ovaries and uterus.
It's not known whether chlamydia infection causes fertility problems or other long-term consequences in men. Because so many people are at risk for chlamydia and because the disease can ravage a woman's reproductive system without so much as a symptom, experts recommend regular, widespread screening to detect the disease. Traditional methods of screening require a health professional to collect a swab sample of genital secretions. Today, a number of tests are available to supplement or sometimes replace the relatively expensive and slow traditional culture. Lange and her boyfriend both took the antibiotic azithromycin (Zithromax), a prescription drug approved by FDA in 1997 to cure chlamydia in one dose. Widespread chlamydia screening among women can get results, as was demonstrated in a recent study supported by NIH. With such effective tools for screening and treatment, why has it proved so difficult to stop the spread of this microorganism?
Beyond encouraging more young people to get routinely screened for chlamydia, experts are searching for other avenues to control this sexually transmitted disease. Until the hope of a vaccine is realized, those who choose to be sexually active should use condoms -- for what they're worth. The only sure-fire way to avoid getting chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases is by abstaining from sex or being in a mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner. Anna Lange was especially surprised when she was diagnosed with chlamydia because, besides not having any symptoms, she had been in a monogamous relationship for six months.

While even "protected " sex with a condom can't completely prevent transmission of chlamydia or some other sexually transmitted diseases, experts recommend correct and consistent condom use to reduce the chances of getting chlamydia or other STDs. Based on a study they conducted in 1998, Burstein and her colleagues at Johns Hopkins University recently recommended a twice-yearly screening of sexually active female adolescents. Routine screening is recommended for pregnant women, also, because of the risk that their babies will become infected with chlamydia at birth.
There are no recommendations for routine screening among males, which Burstein says makes it especially likely that their chlamydial infection will be overlooked. The Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria that cause the sexually transmitted disease should not be confused with Chlamydia pneumoniae.
Even if the fallopian tubes are not completely blocked, scarring can interfere with the passage of the fertilized egg into the uterus.
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The QuickVue Chlamydia Test detects chlamydia directly from endocervical swab and cytology brush specimens and is used as an aid in the presumptive diagnosis of chlamydial infection.
But left untreated, the so-called "silent epidemic" of chlamydia threatens to cause reproductive damage and infertility in many of the 3 million to 4 million Americans who get it each year. Two recent medical advances, she says, constitute "very important breakthroughs" in controlling the rampant disease: a new drug treatment recently approved by FDA to cure chlamydia in a single oral dose, and a urine-based screening test that, unlike other tests, does not require a swab sample of cells from the genital area.
In women, signs can include unusual vaginal discharge or bleeding, burning during urination, or lower abdominal pain.
Experts estimate that up to 75 percent of women and 50 percent of men with chlamydia have no symptoms or symptoms so mild that they don't seek medical attention. Babies who are exposed to chlamydia in the birth canal during delivery can be born with pneumonia or an eye infection called conjunctivitis, both of which can be dangerous unless treated early with antibiotics. This oldest alternative to culture uses a scientific method called staining to make chlamydia easier to spot under a microscope.
Researchers at Seattle's Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound and the University of Washington found that symptomless women who were screened and treated for chlamydial infection were almost 60 percent less likely than unscreened women to develop pelvic inflammatory disease. Recently, researchers at Stanford University and the University of California at San Francisco uncovered new information about the chromosomes of C. In tracking more than 3,000 sexually active Baltimore high school girls for three years, they found that more than a quarter of them tested positive for chlamydia at least once in that time frame. These other bugs, which can cause colds and pneumonia, have been in the news because investigators are researching their possible link with atherosclerosis, a clogging of the arteries that causes most heart attacks and strokes.

A blocked egg may instead implant in the fallopian tube, creating an ectopic or tubal pregnancy, which endangers the mother's life and results in loss of the fetus. The Body and its logos are trademarks of Remedy Health Media, LLC, and its subsidiaries, which owns the copyright of The Body's homepage, topic pages, page designs and HTML code.
Using only two reagents and 3 drops of extracted sample, QuickVue Chlamydia offers high sensitivity and specificity in all patient populations.
If you're sexually active and you're in that age group, you're at risk." Studies show that young adults in Lange's age group, 20 to 24, are the second most affected group.
Men, like women, may have pain during urination, or they may notice a burning and itching around or discharge from the penis or pain and swelling in the testicles.
Also, accuracy of results could vary greatly based on the lab staff's level of expertise and experience. DFA can give quicker results than culture and can be performed on specimens taken from the eye, cervix or penis. Developed and approved in the last few years, these tests can accurately identify even very small numbers of genes in a specimen.
Doxycycline (sold under several brand names), the other antibiotic approved and commonly used to treat chlamydia, is generally taken twice a day for seven days. Add this type of chlamydia to smoking, a bad diet, and a sedentary lifestyle as possible contributors to heart disease. General Disclaimer: The Body is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. Because testing can be done where the specimen is collected, results are more rapid than with culture, access to testing is increased, and costs can be lower. These tests can be expensive, but are becoming more popular among public and other labs because of their accuracy and the relative ease of collecting urine samples. The information provided through The Body should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease.

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