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Pelvic infection tied to bacterial gene

4:49pm, December 9, 2002

From Los Angeles, at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology

When it infects the cervix or urethra, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the bacterium behind gonorrhea, fails to produce symptoms in many women. That's not necessarily good. Women with such silent infections never get treatment, permitting N. gonorrhoeae to spread to the fallopian tubes and elsewhere in the upper genital tract. There the bacteria cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a condition that strikes an estimated 1 million U.S. women every year and leaves 10 percent of them infertile.

Stella Nowicki of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and her colleagues have now identified a gene that the bacterium may use to colonize the upper genital tract. Previously, they showed that strains of N. gonorrhoeae isolated from women with PID are more virulent than bacteria from women with gonorrhea. PID strains, for example, aren't killed by human bloo

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