Chlamydia infection is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in humans caused by the bacterium ''Chlamydia trachomatis''. The term ''Chlamydia infection'' can also refer to infection caused by any species belonging to the bacterial family ''Chlamydiaceae''. ''C. trachomatis'' is found only in humans. Chlamydia is a major infectious cause of human genital and eye disease.
Chlamydia infection is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections worldwide; it is estimated that about 1 million individuals in the United States are infected with chlamydia.
''C. trachomatis'' is naturally found living only inside human cells. Chlamydia can be transmitted during vaginal, anal, or oral sex, and can be passed from an infected mother to her baby during vaginal childbirth. Between half and three-quarters of all women who have a chlamydia infection of the neck of the womb (cervicitis) have no symptoms and do not know that they are infected. In men, infection of the urethra (urethritis) is usually symptomatic, causing a white discharge from the penis with or without pain on urinating (dysuria). Occasionally, the conditions spreads to the upper genital tract in women (causing pelvic inflammatory disease) or to the epididymis in men (causing epididymitis). If untreated, chlamydial infections can cause serious reproductive and other health problems with both short-term and long-term consequences.
Chlamydia conjunctivitis or trachoma is a common cause of blindness worldwide. The World Health Organization estimates that it accounted for 15% of blindness cases in 1995, but only 3.6% in 2002.
Chlamydia causes more than 250,000 cases of epididymitis in the U.S. each year. Chlamydia causes 250,000 to 500,000 cases of PID every year in the United States. Women infected with chlamydia are up to five times more likely to become infected with HIV, if exposed.
Recent phylogenetic studies have revealed that chlamydia shares a common ancestor with modern plants and retains unusual plant-like traits (both genetically and physiologically). In particular, the enzyme ''L,L-diaminopimelate aminotransferase'', which is related to lysine production in plants, is also linked with the construction of chlamydia's cell wall. The genetic encoding for the enzymes is remarkably similar in plants and chlamydia, demonstrating a close common ancestry. This unexpected discovery may help scientists develop new treatment avenues: if scientists could find a safe and effective inhibitor of ''L,L-diaminopimelate aminotransferase'', they might have a highly effective and extremely specific new antibiotic against chlamydia.
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