Chapter 23


Infectious Diseases Affecting the Genitourinary System



Urinary Tract Diseases

  Any condition that prevents or impairs the normal emptying of the bladder may increase the risk for infection

  Although the urinary system is most likely infected from organisms ascending the urethra, it can also be invaded by infections from the bloodstream




Urinary Tract Diseases: Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

  Cystitis - inflammation resulting from bacteria in the bladder

  More common in women due to shorter urethra and closeness of urethra to anus

  Symptoms include painful urination, urinary urgency and frequency, cloudy urine in small amounts

  Pyelonephritis - bacteria invade the ureters and cause a kidney infection

  causes fever, chills, back pain, vomiting and can lead to septicemia and kidney failure

  Most UTIs originate from normal intestinal flora such as E. coli (80%), Staphylococcus saprophyticus, & Enterococcus species

  UTIs are the most common nosocomial infection and are usually acquired from catheters

  Treated with antibiotics





Urinary Tract Diseases:  Leptospirosis

  Zoonotic disease caused by Leptospira interrogans

  Originates from the bloodstream rather than the lower urinary system 

  Leptospiremic phase

  septicemic phase that occurs 10 days after infection with headache, spiking fever, chills, bloodshot eyes, and muscle  pain

  Immune phase

  milder period where blood infection is cleared

  Weils syndrome - can lead to damage of multiple organs (heart, brain, liver, kidney)

  Transmission is by contact of skin or mucous membranes with infected animal urine

  In soil or water where the organisms can remain infectious for as long as two weeks

  Treatment with antibiotics early




Reproductive Tract  Diseases: Bacterial Vaginosis

  Associated with a decrease in protective Lactobacillus in the vagina and increase in bacterial species such as Gardnerella vaginalis and Mobiluncus        

  Symptoms include itching, a gray-white discharge from the vagina and a pungent fishy odor

  Chronic infection may lead to infertility

  May or may not be sexually transmitted

  Treat with oral or topical antibiotics




Vulvovaginal Candidiasis (Yeast Infection)

  Caused by the yeast Candida albicans

  part of the normal flora in 50-100% of people

  Causes symptoms of vaginitis including itching, burning, thick white vaginal discharge, redness and swelling

  Results from disruption of the normal flora caused by antibiotic treatment, pregnancy, diabetes

  Considered non-contagious but may be sexually transmitted

  Treat with topical or oral anti-fungals




Discharge Diseases: Gonorrhea

  Caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae

  Virulence factors include IgA protease and phase variation of fimbriae

Continually changes antigens to confuse immune system

  Men may develop urethritis, painful urination, and a thick mucus discharge from the penis

may spread to prostate gland and epididymis and cause scarring and sterility

  50% of women are asymptomatic and more likely to be unknowing carriers

Symptoms are a  mucopurulent or bloody vaginal discharge along with a UTI

Salpingitis inflammation and scarring of the fallopian tubes when the infection ascends beyond the vagina and cervix

results in pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

increases the risk for sterility and ectopic pregnancies

  Bacteria can enter bloodstream and affect the joints, skin, heart, and brain

  Ophthalmia neonatorum - eye infection of newborn babies acquired from infected mothers during birth

treat eyes with antibiotic <1 hour after birth

  Treated with antibiotics, but many are resistant






  The causative agent is Chlamydia trachomatis

  70-85% of females and 10-25% of males are asymptomatic

  In males the bacteria causes urethritis, a gray-discharge from the penis, and painful testes (epididymitis)

  In women it results in cervicitis accompanied by white discharge and  abdominal pain

Inflammation can cause salpingitis which can lead to sterility and ectopic pregnancy from PID

  Newborn babies of infected mothers can develop inclusion conjunctivitis and pneumonia during birth

  Lymphogranuloma venereum lymph nodes in the groin swell and drain pus

  Treated with antibiotics





  Caused by the protozoan Trichomonas vaginalis

  50% of infections are asymptomatic

  In females, may involve the production of a frothy, green or yellow discharge and itching and burning 

  Infected men may have penile discharge, painful urination, or painful testes

  Chronic infection may lead to infertility

  Treated with anti-protozoan drugs




Genital Ulcer Diseases: Syphilis

  Caused by Treponema pallidum

  Primary syphilis

A hard chancre (painless ulcer) forms at the site of infection usually on the internal or external genitalia

Usually heals without treatment in 3-6 weeks but the disease is still present

  Secondary syphilis

Usually begins about 6 weeks after the chancre heals

Symptoms include fever, headache, and sore throat, followed by swollen  lymph nodes and a red or brown rash covering the whole body

Symptoms usually disappear in a few weeks

  Tertiary syphilis

  Patient is no longer infectious

Gummas painful tumors that can develop in liver, skin, bone, and cartilage

Neurosyphilis can cause convulsions, blindness, and dementia; Cardiovascular syphilis can cause heart failure

  Congenital syphilis - crosses the placenta to involve the fetus

Symptoms can range from mild to extreme depending on when exposure occurred

  Penicillin is effective treatment




  Caused by Haemophilus ducreyi

  Characterized by single or multiple genital sores called soft chancres and swollen lymph nodes that may rupture

  Unlike syphilis the chancre is very painful and multiples may fuse to form one large lesion (coalesce)

  Sexual transmission only; commonly seen among prostitutes

  Treated with antibiotics




Genital Herpes

  Caused by herpes simplex virus Type 1 (HSV-1) or HSV-2

  May be asymptomatic or include itching, burning, or painful sensations and local lymph node enlargement

Small, fluid-filled vesicles may form that break and  leave ulcerated areas that then crust over

  The latent virus establishes itself in sensory neurons and cannot be cured

Upon reactivation, the virus reinfects the area supplied by the nerve          

Many persons have no symptoms while others have frequent recurrences

  Transmission can occur in the absence of symptoms but the risk is much higher when lesions are present

  Immunocompromised patients can develop meningitis or encephalitis

  HSV poses a serious risk to newborn babies if the mother has a primary infection or reactivation near delivery

can affect the mouth, skin, eyes, or central nervous system

  Acyclovir can decrease severity and recurrences



  Genital ulcer diseases can facilitate the spread of HIV




Wart Diseases: Genital Warts and Cervical Cancer

  Caused by Human Papillomaviruses (HPV)

  Range from tiny, inconspicuous papillomas (warts) to large cauliflower-like growths (condyloma acuminata)

  Primarily affects the external genitalia but may infect the cervix, urethra, and anus

  HPV-16 and HPV-18 have been linked to throat and cervical cancer

most infections are asymptomatic

detected with Pap smear

treated by laser removal or freezing

vaccine available