Glamblia are found in animal and human feces. These parasites also thrive in contaminated food, water, and soil, and can survive outside a host for long periods of time. Accidentally consuming these parasites can lead to an infection.
The most common way to get giardiasis is to drink water that contain G. lamblia. Contaminated water can be in swimming pools, spas, and bodies of water, such as lakes. Sources of contamination include animal feces, diapers, and agricultural runoff.
Contracting giardiasis from food is less common because heat kills the parasites. Poor hygiene when handling food or eating produce rinsed in contaminated water can allow the parasite to spread.
Giardiasis also spreads through personal contact. For example, unprotected anal sex can pass the infection from one person to another.
Changing a child’s
diaper or picking up the parasite while working in a day care center are also
common ways to become infected. Children are at high risk for giardiasis
because they’re likely to encounter feces when wearing diapers or potty
The giardia parasite is a very common intestinal parasite. Although anyone can pick up giardia parasites, some people are especially at risk:
Signs and symptoms of giardia infection may last two to six
weeks, but in some people they last longer or recur.
You may have to submit one or more stool samples for testing. A technician will check your stool sample for giardia parasites. You could have to submit more samples during treatment. Your doctor may also perform an enteroscopy. This procedure involves running a flexible tube down your throat and into your small intestine. This will allow your doctor to examine your digestive tract and take a tissue sample.
Children and adults who have giardia infection without symptoms usually don't need treatment unless they're likely to spread the parasites. Many people who do have problems often get better on their own in a few weeks.
When signs and symptoms are severe or the infection persists, doctors usually treat giardiasis with medications such as:
There are no consistently recommended medications for giardiasis in
pregnancy because of the potential for adverse drug effects to the baby. If
your symptoms are mild, your doctor may recommend delaying treatment until
after the first trimester. If treatment is necessary, discuss the best
available treatment option with your doctor.
No drug or vaccine can prevent giardia infection. But common-sense precautions can go a long way toward reducing the chances that you'll become infected or spread the infection to others.