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reactive arthritis

disorder characterized by arthritis and sometimes inflammation of the eye, urogenital tract, or mucous membranes that is typically triggered by a sexually transmitted disease or a gastrointestinal infection. Presumably, Reiter syndrome reflects an aberrant immune response to various infectious agents such as Chlamydia, Campylobacter, Shigella, and other bacteria, but the mechanisms are unknown. A genetic factor (HLA-B27) has been identified that predisposes a person to the disorder. Arthritis usually involves multiple joints, particularly the knees, ankles, and bones of the feet. In most cases, the joint pain seems to resolve spontaneously in a few months, but it has a tendency to recur episodically. Occasionally, severe complications such as heart damage may occur, but death from the syndrome is rare. Treatment of the original infection with antibiotics is important but does not prevent Reiter syndrome from occurring.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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