Giardiasis Quick Overview
- Giardiasis is the name of the disease
caused by Giardia parasites that infect the small bowel.
- Giardiasis is caused by Giardia
parasites that damage the small intestine; Giardia forms cysts are transmitted
to humans in contaminated water or food and by person-to-person contact.
- Symptoms of giardiasis are variable;
some people have no symptoms but still pass cysts in the stool and are
considered carriers of the parasite while others may develop acute or chronic
diarrheal illnesses that begin to show symptoms in one to two weeks after
- Symptoms of acute giardiasis are profuse watery diarrhea that later
becomes greasy and foul-smelling with occasional bloating, abdominal
passing gas (flatulence).
- Chronic diarrheal illness symptoms include greasy,
yellowish diarrhea, weight loss, and abdominal pain.
- Seek medical care if you suspect you
have giardiasis; if a person develops profuse watery diarrhea with dehydration
or is passing many small volume stools that contain blood or mucus, have fever
greater than 100.4 F or 38 C, severe abdominal pain and/or diarrhea in individuals older
than 70 years or in individuals with weakened immune systems, the person should
go to an urgent care clinic or an emergency department for evaluation.
- Giardiasis may be diagnosed by several
different types of tests including examining the stool cysts, detection of
antigens (substances the the immune system thinks are foreign or dangerous) in
the stool, a string test (patients swallow a string taped to their
cheek), and for more difficult diagnoses, aspiration of small bowel contents or
biopsy of the small bowel may be done.
- Some individuals may be treated at home
with fluids to prevent dehydration, bland foods and avoiding milk for several
weeks; however, this may not be appropriate treatment for others so you should
consult your health-care professional before home treatment.
- Treatment for Giardiasis is mainly done by medicines, the most common
treatment is Tinidazole (Tindamax) . If you are pregnant, consult your OB/GYN physician to monitor treatments.
- Follow-up is important to reduce the
spread of the disease to caregivers.
- Giardiasis can be prevented by avoiding
contaminated food and water, oral/anal sex, and by practicing excellent
- The prognosis for someone with
giardiasis is usually very good although in a few individuals, dehydration and
malnutrition (especially young children) may lead to developmental impairment.
Giardia cysts are transmitted to humans in various ways.
- Contaminated water supplies:
Giardia is one of the most common causes of water-borne diarrhea outbreaks. Sources of contaminated water include public facilities that improperly filter and treat water, water in developing countries, or rivers and lakes used by hikers. Overseas travelers and hikers are at a high risk for infection.
- Contaminated food: Food that may have been washed in contaminated water, exposed to manure, or prepared by an infected person can transmit the disease.
- Person-to-person contact: Infection may be caused by poor hygiene and most commonly occurs in daycare centers, nursing homes, and during oral-anal sexual contact. Family members, daycare workers, and others in contact with infected stool may then themselves become infected.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/29/2015
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