chlamydia (kləmĭdˈēə) [key], genus of microorganisms that cause a variety of diseases in humans and other animals. Psittacosis, or parrot fever, caused by the species Chlamydia psittaci, is transmitted to people by birds, particularly parrots, parakeets, and lovebirds. In birds the disease takes the form of an intestinal infection, but in people it runs the course of a viral pneumonia. Different forms of Chlamydia trachomatis cause trachoma, an infection of the mucous membrane of the eyelids, and the sexually transmitted disease lymphogranuloma venereum. This same species also causes the sexually transmitted disease called chlamydia, the most common such disease in the United States. In women, chlamydia is a common cause of pelvic inflammatory disease, which can result in infertility and an increased risk of tubal pregnancy. Men are the primary carriers, but painful urination and discharge often prompt men to get treatment before the testes can be infected and male infertility can result. Chlamydial infections can be treated with antibiotics such as tetracycline.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.