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What is Giardiasis?

Giardiasis (pronounced GEE-are-DYE-uh-sis) is a diarrhea illness caused by a one-celled, microscopic parasite. It affects the body's ability to absorb fats from the diet.

The parasite that causes giardiasis is called Giardia intestinalis. The giardia parasite is found in soil, food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with the feces from infected humans or animals. The giardia parasite can survive outside the body and in the environment for long periods of time.

In the United States, giardiasis is the most common cause of diarrhea due to contaminated water.

If you think you have giardiasis, you should contact your doctor.

What are the symptoms of Giardiasis?

Some people with giardiasis have no symptoms at all. When symptoms are present, they begin about 7 days after becoming infected. Symptoms of giardiasis may last 2 to 6 weeks.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Greasy, floating stools
  • Stomach cramps
  • Upset stomach or nausea

How is Giardiasis Transmitted?

The Giardia parasite lives in the intestine of infected humans or animals. The giardia parasite is passed in the feces of an infected person or animal. It may contaminate water or food. Person to person transmission may also occur.

Can Giardiasis be Treated?

Yes. Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to kill the parasite that causes giardiasis.

How is Giardiasis Diagnosed?

If doctors suspect that giardiasis is present, they will usually take a stool sample and perform tests on it. Several stool samples may be needed.

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