Giardiasis is an intestinal illness caused by infection with the parasite Giardia. The worst symptoms of giardiasis typically last for five to seven days, as long as diagnosis and treatment is not delayed.
Giardiasis is an intestinal illness caused by infection with the parasite Giardia lamblia, which lives in contaminated water. A person can remain infected with Giardia until the infection is diagnosed and treated. The infection is found in about 1 out of 3 people who have prolonged diarrhoea symptoms if they have recently travelled to a place that is affected.
You can become infected with G. lamblia by:
- Drinking water that has been contaminated with Giardia cysts (usually because the water has come into contact with sewage)
- Eating uncooked fruits or vegetables that have been washed in contaminated water
- Eating uncooked fruits or vegetables from a garden where contaminated fertilizer has been used
- Touching faeces, diapers, or objects soiled with faeces, then failing to adequately wash your hands
- Having direct contact with an infected person or animal, then failing to adequately wash your hands
Who is at risk of giardiasis?
- Children in day care centers and their families
- Day care workers
- Campers who drink unprocessed water
- Homosexual men (because of anal sex)
- Children are three times more likely to develop giardiasis than adults. It is possible that the human body develops some immunity to the parasite over time.
The worst symptoms of giardiasis typically last for five to seven days, as long as diagnosis and treatment is not delayed. Symptoms can take as long as several months to completely go away after treatment because the intestine needs to repair itself. It is common to be intolerant to milk and other dairy products that contain lactose for the first few months after a Giardia infection. In some people who are not treated, the infection can cause repeated bouts of abdominal pain and diarrhea for a year or longer.
Read more articles on Giardiasis.
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