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Chlamydia bacteria can be a culprit.

Chlamydia bacteria are known to be an especially common cause of the sexually transmitted infection called non-specific urethritis. Recently, however, these bacteria also have been identified as a cause of a form of arthritis called Reiter's syndrome, according to two British studies.

Sexually acquired infections such as non-specific urethritis (NSU) often result in reactive, inflammatory arthritis. Yet researchers have not known whether it is the bacteria or the body's overall immune response that causes the arthritis.

Now researchers at Westminster Hospital in London have reported finding chlamydia, or fragments of chlamydia, in the joints of people who have been infected with NSU. This new evidence suggests that it is the presence of bacteria in the joint itself that causes the arthritis.

In one study, Dr. Andrew Keat studied men with inflammation of the knee. Dr. Keat found chlamydia in the joints of men who had earlier contracted NSU. But he found no traces of chlamydia in men who had inflammatory arthritis from other well-known rheumatic diseases.

Sexually acquired reactive arthritis, or Reiter's syndrome, appears to affect men far more often than women. Yet in a similar study, Dr. Josh Dixey found chlamydia in the joints of women with unexplained inflammation of the joints. These women showed no symptoms whatsoever of genital tract infection, and they did not have any of the outward signs of joint disorder associated with Reiter's syndrome. Nevertheless, Dr. Dixey concluded that the chlamydia bacteria were most likely the cause of arthritis in these women.

Scientists are examining the possibility that other forms of sexually acquired arthritis may be caused in a similar way

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Title Annotation:cause of Reiter's syndrome
Publication:Arthritis Today
Date:Mar 1, 1988
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