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Giardia and Food Poisoning

What is giardia?

Giardiasis is a type of foodborne illness caused by a microscopic parasite called Giardia Lamblia or Giardia duodenalis (commonly known as "giardia"). It is most commonly found in developing countries that lack sanitation and water quality control.

How do you get giardiasis?

You can contract giardiasis by ingesting the Giardia parasite. The bacteria travel through the small intestine and out through infected feces from a person or animal that can contaminate anything that comes into contact with it. As with any other bacteria, Giardia spreads very easily - even ingesting tiny amounts of feces can make you ill.

How do you spread giardiasis?

There are a lot of ways to get the bacteria, however, these are the most common:

  • Contact with both infected animals and animal environments contaminated by the bacteria
  • Eating unsafe food or drinking water that's been contaminated with Giardia
  • Traveling to areas with poor sanitation
  • Transmission through close contact with infected people
  • Germs from contaminated surfaces and touching your mouth
  • Having anal sex (coming into contact with feces) with someone who is sick or who was recently infected with Giardia

How common is giardiasis? 

In the last 50 years, giardiasis has been recognized around the world as one of the most common parasites that can damage an internal organ. In places with poor sanitation such as developing countries, this is a big concern, but it is also found in developed countries everywhere. 

When do you show signs and symptoms of giardiasis? 

The onset of the symptoms of giardiasis usually begins 1 to 2 weeks after ingesting contaminated food or water or coming into contact with an infected person with giardia. 

What are the signs and symptoms of giardia infection? 

A giardia infection or giardiasis can result in a variety of symptoms common to any other foodborne illness such as: 

  • Nausea
  • Dehydration
  • Loose stools
  • Foul-smelling, greasy poop
  • Gas
  • Stomach cramps or pain

How long do these symptoms last? 

Symptoms of a giardia infection last depending on the severity but it normally takes 2 to 6 weeks to fully run its course. People who are immunocompromised (e.g., due to illness such as HIV) may experience longer symptoms. 

Is Giardiasis contagious? 

Yes, it is. Because giardia is fast to multiply even outside of the body, it is very contagious and spreads quickly, especially if you live with other people in the same house. 

Who is at greater risk of getting giardiasis? 

People who are usually diagnosed with the bacteria are often found to have traveled to places with poor conditions and a lack of sanitation. Those who love to go on hikes in the forest and drink directly from contaminated lakes or streams are vulnerable to getting giardiasis. Couples who perform anal sex can also get infected with the bacteria. It is especially risky for those who have heart conditions and infants and young children. 

How is giardiasis diagnosed? 

Your doctor will request for a stool sample to be sent to the lab to see if you are infected. Because it can be quite challenging to detect Giardia in one sitting, the doctor may request for more stool specimens to be collected over the course of a few days to see if you are infected. 

Can I get giardia from my private well? 

Giardia can make its way into wells, even though private, through a variety of ways, including sewage overflows and malfunctions as well as environmental factors. Wells may be more prone to contamination by fecal matter after periods of flooding, and this is most likely during rare shallow wells or long flood events. A leaking septic system or poorly maintained one can pose a risk of contaminating nearby wells with germs from fecal matter, such as Giardia. 

Can I get giardiasis from my pet? 

The chances of contracting Giardia from dogs or cats are slim. The type of Giardia that infects humans is usually not the same type that passes between dogs and cats.

What is the treatment for giardiasis? 

There are many prescription drugs available to treat giardiasis. But giardia is more likely to cause dehydration in infants or pregnant women than in other people. Infants and pregnant women should drink a lot of fluids during the course of infection. This helps prevent dehydration which can be life-threatening for infants and young children, so parents should talk to their health care providers about options for treating them. 

How do I prevent giardiasis? 

Here are a few ways to avoid getting infected and control the spread of giardia: 

  • Always remember to wash your hands thoroughly before and after activities that require you to touch food, dirt, or feces
  • Do not eat or drink from contaminated sources
  • If no bottled water is available while backpacking or camping, make sure to boil water from springs, lakes, or rivers (surface water) for at least one minute before drinking.
  • Try to avoid ingesting water from swimming pools, hot tubs, splash pads, and untreated water from springs, lakes, or rivers (surface water) when swimming.
  • Ensure that fruits and vegetables are cleaned, prepared, and stored properly.
  • Practice safe sex by wearing condoms or abstain from having sexual intercourse several weeks after you or your partner have recovered from giardiasis.
Read more

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Definitely looks dried out or molded 🤔
Reply 2 weeks ago
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