Giardiasis is an intestinal infection caused by the parasite Giardia lamblia that is usually manifested by loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal cramps, bloating and diarrhea.

Where does it occur?

It occurs worldwide.

How is it transmitted?

Infection is transmitted by fecal-oral spread or ingesting contaminated food or water. Mountain stream are notoriously contaminated with giardia from wild animals.

Is it contagious from person to person?

It is contagious through hands soiled with fecal material from an infected individual.

What is the risk for travelers?

Generally low, but increased for those visiting or living in rural areas, back country regions or frequent facilities with poor sanitation or water treatment.

How soon after exposure will one develop symptoms?

Generally 1-2 weeks after exposure, but can be up to 4 weeks later.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Symptoms are generally loss of appetite, lack of energy, nausea, abdominal cramps, bloating and diarrhea. Stools can be foul smelling and greasy. Fever, vomiting and bloody stools are not usually seen. In some chronic infection can develop with malabsorption of food resulting in weight loss.

Are there any lab tests to diagnose the illness?

The parasite can be seen on microscopic exam of the stool.

Is there any treatment?

An antibiotic called metronidazole is effective. Others like tinidazole and albendazole are also effective.

What preventive measures can be taken?

Practice food safety and water safety.

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