What is Giardiasis?
Giardiasis is an illness caused by a microscopic parasite that lives in the intestines of people and animals. It is the most frequent cause of non-bacterial diarrhea. Giardia may be found in the soil, food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with the feces from an infected human or animal.
What are the symptoms of giardiasis?
Symptoms generally begin 1-2 weeks after being infected. Symptoms may include: diarrhea, nausea, weight loss, or inability to gain weight, poor appetite, bloating, gas or abdominal cramping. Symptoms may last 2-6 weeks. Occasionally, symptoms last longer. Some people with Giardiasis may not exhibit symptoms of the illness.
How is Giardiasis diagnosed?
Giardiasis is diagnosed by examination of fresh stool. All internationally adopted children should have their stool tested for "ova and parasites" and "Giardia Ag".
What is the treatment for giardiasis?
People who are diagnosed with Giardiasis and who are exhibiting symptoms of the illness will likely require treatment with a medication. The medication most commonly used is call metronidazole.
People who have been diagnosed with Giardiasis but who do not have symptoms of the illness will not require treatment with medication as the parasite will clear naturally.
Is giardiasis contagious?
Good hand washing by caregivers after diaper changes and good hand washing after toileting will minimize the spread of giardiasis. Infected people should avoid swimming in recreational water (pools, lakes, etc) for at least two weeks after the diarrhea subsides. Giardia can be passed in the stool and contaminate water for several weeks after symptoms have ended.