August 14 20:36 2019 Print This Article

Giardiasis is a diarrheal illness caused by a one-celled, microscopic parasite, Giardia intestinalis (also known as Giardia lamblia ). Giardia (say “gee-ar-dee-ah”) is the name of a microscopic parasite that can live in the human bowel. It is a fairly common cause of diarrheal illness and it is estimated that several thousand cases occur in upstate New York each year. The parasite attaches itself to the lining of the small intestines in humans, where it sabotages the body’s absorption of fats and carbohydrates from digested foods. The infective dose is low in humans; 10-25 cysts are capable of causing clinical disease. Ingestion of more than 25 cysts results in a 100% infection rate. This protozoan was initially named Cercomonas intestinalis by Lambl in 1859 and renamed Giardia lamblia by Stiles in 1915, in honor of Professor A. Giard of Paris and Dr. F. Lambl of Prague. The giardia organism inhabits the digestive tract of a wide variety of domestic and wild animal species as well as humans.

Giardiasis is a major diarrheal disease found throughout the world. Once an animal or person has been infected with Giardia intestinalis, the parasite lives in the intestine and is passed in the stool.It can survive the normal amounts of chlorine used to purify community water supplies, and can live for more than 2 months in cold water. Once in the intestines, they attach to the inside of the intestinal wall, where they can disrupt the normal function of the intestines and compete for important nutrients. The infective dose is low in humans; 10-25 cysts are capable of causing clinical disease. Ingestion of more than 25 cysts results in a 100% infection rate. The active trophozoite attaches to the lining of the small intestine with a “sucker” and is responsible for causing the signs and symptoms of giardiasis.

Causes of Giardiasis

The comman causes of Giardiasis include the following:

  • Giardiasis is caused by the ingestion of infective cysts.
  • Eating uncooked food contaminated with Giardia.
  • Accidentally putting something into your mouth or swallowing something that has come into contact with feces of a person or animal infected with Giardia.
  • Giardiasis is easy to catch if you drink untreated spring water or stream water.
  • Venereal transmission occurs through direct fecal-oral transmission.
  • Touching and bringing to the mouth cysts picked up from surfaces (such as toys, bathroom fixtures, changing tables, diaper pails) contaminated with stool from an infected person.

Symptoms of Giardiasis

Some sign and symptoms related to Giardiasis are as follows:

  • Diarrhea.
  • Gas or flatulence.
  • Upset stomach or nausea.
  • Fever is rarely present.
  • Abdominal cramps.
  • Large amounts of intestinal gas.
  • Anorexia.
  • Fatigue.
  • Malaise.
  • Weight loss.
  • Chronic illness may occur with adults presenting with long-standing malabsorption syndrome and children with failure to thrive.
  • Vomiting.
  • Headache.

Treatment of Giardiasis

Here is list of the methods for treating Giardiasis:

  • Antibiotics such as albenzazole, metronidazole or furizolidone are often prescribed by doctors to treat giardiasis.
  • Severely dehydrated patients may benefit from the administration of intravenous crystalloid fluids by Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel.
  • Wash hands before eating food, after changing diapers, using the bathroom, or touching pets.
  • Furazolidone (Furoxone) is generally used to treat children.
  • People with severe diarrhea should drink plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration.
  • Suck on ice chips to keep from becoming dehydrated if you cannot keep fluids down.
  • Quinacrine: Treatment is 90% effective with these pills given over 5 days.
  • Surgical therapy is not indicated for giardiasis.
  • Nitazoxanide (Alinia): This drug was approved by the FDA in November 2002 for use in children with giardiasis.
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