What Are the Types of Chlamydia?

chlamydia virus

Story at-a-glance -

  • Did you know that there’s not just one type of chlamydia strain that affects humans? There are actually three that can attack our bodies in different ways
  • This is why chlamydia shouldn’t be taken lightly and must be treated immediately once you’ve been diagnosed with it

Chlamydia trachomatis is the strain that causes the sexually transmitted infection (STI) with which most people are familiar. Chlamydia is the most common STI in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 1,526,658 chlamydia cases reported in the U.S. in 2015 alone, the highest number ever reported to the CDC. Young people aged 15 to 24 years old accounted for the highest numbers of these cases, with young women facing the most serious health consequences.1

Chlamydia trachomatis can be passed from one person to another via unprotected sexual intercourse (whether vaginal, anal or oral sex) or by touching the genitals of an infected person.2 Both women and men can be infected with this chlamydia strain, and you can get it more than once, even if you’ve been treated for it before.

Usually, symptoms don’t show up until you’ve had the disease for quite some time. When they do appear, symptoms are felt in the reproductive organs (the penis or the vagina) and even in the rectum. Women may have an abnormal vaginal discharge, while men may have a discharge from their penis and possible pain or swelling in their testicles. Chlamydia patients may also feel a burning sensation while urinating.3

If left untreated, sexually transmitted chlamydia can result in epididymitis (pain and inflammation in the epididymis) or the spread of the infection to the prostate gland, triggering fevers, painful intercourse and lower back pain. Women are prone to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and an increased risk of infertility and ectopic pregnancy.4 Meanwhile, pregnant women with chlamydia can put their newborns at risk of eye infections and pneumonia.5

Another chlamydia strain that can negatively affect you is Chlamydia pneumoniae (C. pneumoniae), a nonsexually transmitted disease that infects the lungs and causes bacterial pneumonia.6 The CDC does not require reporting for cases of C. pneumoniae, but it is estimated that more than 300,000 cases occur each year in the U.S. Nevertheless, it’s an infection that’s quite common, particularly in crowded places like schools, barracks, hospitals and nursing homes.

The illness is most common in school-age children, but it should be noted that all ages are at risk for infection, with older adults at increased risk.7 Chlamydia pneumoniae infection can be easily transferred from one person to another via coughing, sneezing or touching infected objects in areas such as military barracks, college dorms, care facilities or prisons.

Aside from pneumonia, people who are infected with the bacteria strain may also develop bronchitis, gradual cough or even pharyngitis, laryngitis and sinusitis. Older adults have more severe disease/s and recurring infections.8

Chlamydia psittaci is another chlamydia strain that can lead to a rare condition called psittacosis, aka “parrot fever.”9 The CDC reports that since 1996, less than 50 cases of this disease have occurred per year in the U.S.; however, some instances may have been unreported or undiagnosed.10

Humans usually get parrot fever from parrots (as the name implies) and other birds such as chickens, turkey, pigeons and ducks when they handle the bird, breathe fine particles of the bird’s urine, feces or other body excretions, touch their mouth to the bird’s beak and/or get bitten by a bird.11 According to Healthline, the usual signs of parrot fever are:12

Fever and chills

Nausea and vomiting

Muscle, joint, and chest pain

Weakness and fatigue

Diarrhea

Dry cough

Shortness of breath

Intolerance to light

MORE ABOUT CHLAMYDIA

Chlamydia: Introduction

Chlamydia Types

Chlamydia Symptoms

Chlamydia Causes

Chlamydia Treatment

Chlamydia Prevention

Chlamydia Diet

Chlamydia FAQ


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