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What is Giardiasis?

Giardiasis is a diarrheal disease caused by the parasite Giardia. Giardia feeds off of another to survive, and it lives in the intestine of a human or animal until it is passed. It can survive for weeks or months after it has passed.

How is Giardia spread and transmitted?

  • Swallowing Giardia picked up from surfaces infected with human or animal feces
  • Drinking water or using ice from a source infected with Giardia
  • Swallowing infected water from lakes, pools, etc.
  • Eating uncooked food infected with Giardia
  • Coming into contact with someone with Giardiasis
  • Traveling to countries where Giardia is common
  • It is possible to become infected with Giardia anytime you swallow the parasite from human or animal waste

What are the symptoms of Giardiasis?

Symptoms normally show 1-3 weeks after the infection occurs. They can last anywhere from 2-6 weeks, but they sometimes last longer. Some people show no symptoms. Noticeable symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Greasy stool that floats
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Dehydration

Who is at risk for Giardiasis?

  • Children in childcare settings, especially diaper-aged children
  • People in close contact with someone that is infected
  • People who drink water or use ice in places where Giardia is common
  • People who partake in recreational activities and drink unsafe water or practice poor hygiene
  • People who swallow water in places where Giardia is common, such as pools, river, lakes, etc.
  • International travelers
  • People exposed to feces through sexual contact

How is Giardiasis diagnosed?

A healthcare provider may request a stool sample to check for the parasite. Several samples may be necessary.

What treatment options are available for people with Giardiasis?

Contact your healthcare provider if you believe that you have Giardiasis. It is especially important for infants and pregnant women to see their doctor. Treatments include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Rehydration supplements

How can I prevent Giardiasis?

  • Wash hands after using the restroom or changing diapers
  • Avoid contaminated water
  • Avoid eating foods that may be contaminated
  • Prevent contact with feces during sex

For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/giardia/index.html.