Giardiasis – What is Giardiasis? How to Prevent Giardiasis?


is an infection of the small intestine caused by a microscopic parasite called

Giardia Lamblia.

The parasite sticks to the linings of the small intestine and impairs its ability to absorb carbohydrates and fats from digested foods.

The infection is prevalent in developing countries. The worldwide prevalence of giardiasis is about 20 to 30%. In the US, giardia is one of the chief causes of diarrhea with 20,000 cases reported to the CDC annually. Giardia attacks wide range of mammalian hosts besides humans, thus very difficult to subdue. Giardiasis is transmitted through contaminated water.


About two-thirds of people infected with giardia do not have symptoms. Giardia remains in intestines in a dormant state. When it causes symptoms the first sign is

watery diarrhea

without blood or mucus. The stool contains unabsorbed fats, thus floats and smells very bad. Here are other symptoms of giardiasis:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Large amounts of intestinal gas
  • Enlarged belly due to gas
  • A low-grade fever

These symptoms last for 5 to 7 days. If they last longer the person loses weight considerably. Other signs of poor nutrition are also seen.

Diagnosis of Giardiasis:

Stool sample test, ELISA test



are three diagnostic ways to find giardiasis.

Stool samples tested in lab under microscope to see giardia parasites. ELISA test is more sensitive test that is used to see other details.

Endoscope is an instrument to see the inner linings of the small intestine. Samples from inside of the intestine are taken and sent to laboratory. This process is also called biopsy.

Prevention and Treatment:

Giardiasis is usually treated with medications called metronidazole and furazolidone. Giardiasis is prevented by taking following precautions:

  • Be very careful about drinking water. Do not drink any water that you get. Boiling water before drinking is the safe way to prevent giardiasis.
  • Wash hands with soap or shampoo several times a day.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables after washing them thoroughly. You may need to peel the skin of some fruits before consuming them.
  • Do not eat undercooked food.
  • Even washing teeth with unsafe water increases the risk of giardiasis. Use boiled or hygienic water to wash mouth or teeth.


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