Giardiasis (giardia infection)

Abdomen | Gastroenterology | Giardiasis (giardia infection) (Disease)


Giardiasis is a form of gastroenteritis, also known as gastro. About half of individuals with giardiasis do not develop symptoms. After ingesting the parasite, symptoms usually start within 3 weeks. Symptoms of Giardia infection include abdominal swelling, cramping abdominal pain, fatigue, fever, excessive gas, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and weight loss. Symptoms of dehydration may develop.

The following are the most common symptoms of giardiasis. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

(1) Explosive, watery, foul-smelling stools

(2) Greasy stools that tend to float

(3) Bloating

(4) Nausea

(5) Loss of appetite

(6) Abdominal pain

(7) Excessive gas

(8) Fatigue

Causes and Risk factors

Giardiasis is caused by a parasite called Giardia Lamblia, which lives in the bowel. Giardiasis can affect anyone but is more common in infants, children and adults aged 20 to 40 years.

It is easily spread in childcare centres where there are children who are not toilet trained. Giardia parasites are also found in wild, pet and farm animals. Untreated water that comes directly from lakes and rivers may also contain Giardia parasites.

Giardia intestinalis is a major cause of waterborne outbreaks of diarrhea. It occurs primarily in areas where water supplies have become contaminated with feces from humans or, possibly, from animals (for example, cats, dogs, cattle, deer, and beavers). Outbreaks have occurred throughout the country.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Currently, there is no vaccine to protect humans from acquiring giardiasis, nor does chlorinating municipal water protect against Giardia. Thus, various public health and prevention strategies should be taken to decrease risk of infection.

Avoid contaminated water. Hikers and overseas travelers to developing countries should consider all water sources contaminated and thus boil, filter, or treat all water with specially designed tablets or solutions. ...