What is giardiasis?
Giardiasis is an infection of your small intestine by a microscopic parasite called Giardia.
You can get giardiasis from drinking unclean water
Sometimes you get giardiasis from other people who have the infection
The main symptoms are belly cramps and diarrhea
Doctors can tell you have the infection by testing a stool (poop) sample
To avoid giardiasis, boil infected water before you drink it, especially water from a stream or lake
Doctors treat giardiasis with anti-parasite medicine
What causes giardiasis?
Giardiasis is caused by small parasites called Giardia.
Giardia are common in lakes, rivers, and streams all over the world. They can even be in water that looks clean and safe. Sometimes, they are also in poorly treated water from a city water supply or swimming pool.
Most people get giardiasis from drinking water that has the parasite in it. Because people with giardiasis pass the parasite in their stool, they can accidentally spread the infection if they touch something that you then put in your mouth.
What are the symptoms of giardiasis?
Symptoms usually start about a week or two after you’re infected. They include:
Watery, foul-smelling diarrhea, which can last for weeks
Feeling sick to your stomach—the feeling may come and go
Feeling tired and uncomfortable and not hungry
If diarrhea lasts longer than a few weeks, it can stop your body from getting the nutrition it needs. You may lose weight. Children with ongoing diarrhea may have growth problems.
How can doctors tell if I have giardiasis?
Doctors will ask about your symptoms and do:
How do doctors treat giardiasis?
Doctors treat giardiasis with:
Doctors only treat people who have symptoms.
How can I prevent giardiasis?
You and your community can help prevent giardiasis by:
Having properly treated public water, including drinking water and water in swimming pools
Washing hands before preparing food
Washing hands thoroughly after using the toilet
Avoiding contact with stool during sex
Boiling stream or lake water before drinking it