Chlamydia trachomatis was isolated from 58.5% of 159 patients with non-specific urethritis (NSU) using irradiated McCoy cell cultures. Patients with persistent Chlamydia-positive NSU remained Chlamydia-positive each time they were examined before treatment and patients with Chlamydia-negative NSU remained Chlamydia-negative during the course of the illness. Neither the duration of symptoms of urethritis nor a history of previous urethritis affected the chlamydial isolation rate significantly. Of 40 patients with severe discharge 30 (75%) harboured C. trachomatis. One-third of the Chlamydia-positive patients had a severe urethral discharge, while this was present in only 15% of Chlamydia-negative patients. Complications--such as conjunctivitis, arthritis, and epididymitis--were more severe in men with Chlamdia-positive NSU than in those with Chlamydia-negative NSU. Of 64 men matched for sexual promiscuity but without urethritis, none harboured C. trachomatis in his urethra. This differs significantly (P less than 0.001) when compared with patients with NSU. C. trachomatis was isolated from the urogenital tract in 24 (42%) out of 57 female sexual contacts of patients with NSU. The presence of C. trachomatis in the women correlated significantly (P less than 0.001) with the isolation of the agent from their male contacts. These findings give further evidence for the aetiological role of C. trachomatis in non-specific urethritis and its sexual transmission.
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