Giardiasis

Giardiasis is an infection of the small intestine with the parasite Giardia intestinalis. Giardia intestinalis cannot be seen with the naked eye. It is often found in unclean (contaminated) water.

CAUSES

Infection can be caused by drinking contaminated water. Giardia intestinalis can also be found in some tap water.

SYMPTOMS

An infection causes:

  • Explosive, foul smelling, watery diarrhea.

  • A Feeling of sickness in your stomach (nausea).

  • Abdominal cramps and pain.

It takes about 1 to 2 weeks after ingesting infected water or food to get sick. The illness usually lasts 2 to 4 weeks. Infection in infants and children can be long lasting.

DIAGNOSIS

It can be diagnosed by stool exam. Blood tests may be needed.

TREATMENT

Medications can be given to shorten the course of the illness.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • In areas of contamination, boil your water if possible. Filtering tap water in areas of contamination removes most Giardia. Cysts of Giardia Intestinalis are resistant to chlorine.

  • Be careful handling soiled undergarments and diapers. If infection is present, it is easily passed by hand to mouth. Use good hand-washing techniques.

  • Follow up with your caregiver as directed.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

You do not get better.