Giardiasis – An Intestinal Infection - Dream Health

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Sunday, 31 August 2014

Giardiasis – An Intestinal Infection

Giardiasis is an intestinal infection of the digestive system caused by a microscopic, single celled parasite known as Giardia intestinalis or Giardia lamblia or Giardia duodenalis. These parasites are usually found in lakes, ponds or streams which have been contaminated by humans, dogs or beaver faeces.

Giardiasis is also known as beaver fever. Most of the people may get affected with this condition by consuming drinking water which is contaminated with the Giardia parasite or through direct contact with an infected person.

It could also pass on the infection if the infected person does not wash their hands properly after using the toilet and handles the food which is eaten by others. Besides this, the food could also tend to get contaminated if it has been washed with the infected water.

It is essential to adopt good hygienic habits like washing of hands regularly with soap and clean water, ensuring the water consumed comes from good source, could contribute in helping to avoiding the risk of giardiasis.

High number of infection is often seen in late summer and at times with few deaths taking place. People travelling to regions of Asia, Africa and Latin America could be at risk of getting infected since clean water supplies are quite low in these regions.

Symptoms – Diarrhoea/Cramps/Bloating/Flatulence 

There are possibilities where some healthy people may not get affected from Giardia lamblia but they could still pass on the infection to others. Children, seniors and others with long term illness could be prone in getting infected since the risk of transmission is high in day-care centres as well as seniors’ residence.

The most common symptom of giardiasis is diarrhoea while other symptoms may include abdominal cramps, flatulence and bloating. These symptoms may tend to be unpleasant but it is not a serious threat to health and can be treated. The parasite which is the cause of giardiasis lives in the intestine of the infected person or animals and enters the soil, food and water or other surfaces after bowel movements.

 People may also tend to get infected through hand to mouth transmission which involves eating contaminated food or touching contaminated areas thereby swallowing the parasite unknowingly.

Treated with Antibiotics 

These parasites produce cysts which are swallowed which is turn reproduces in the intestines resulting in signs and symptoms of giardiasis. The parasites then form new cysts which are passed in the stool and this is the on-going cycle of the parasite and ingestion of around 10 cysts is enough to infect a person with this ailment. When faced with the symptoms which could last for a week, the person is advised to consult a physician especially if they have travelled abroad.

To diagnose the condition, the physician could send some sample of faeces to the laboratory to get tested and based on the result can diagnose the ailment. To ensure a correct diagnosis, three samples may be needed to be taken over a number of days. Giardiasis is treated successfully with antibiotic which can kill the giardia parasite and free the person from this disease.

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