Giardiasis is an acute illness that impacts the gastrointestinal system. It is caused by a parasite known as the Giardia lamblia, which is found all over the world. Giardiasis is spread through fecal matter and sewage, and the illness can affect individuals of any age, including infants. The most common symptom of the disease is diarrhea; the condition often also leads to nausea, bloating, weight loss, cramping, fatigue, and dehydration. In the United States, giardiasis is the primary cause of diarrhea. Generally, the infection lasts between two to six weeks, although some patients may have giardiasis for a longer length of time or have more than one episode of the disease. Some individuals infected by the giardia parasite never develop symptoms, but they are still carriers and can transmit the infection to others. Diagnosis can be confirmed with a stool sample. Giardiasis is unpleasant; however, it is not normally considered dangerous for those who are otherwise in good health. Despite this, it is especially important to be vigilant when infants and children have the illness, as symptoms can be more severe with this age group.
Ingestion Of Parasite Cysts
The ingestion of parasite cysts is the way in which this illness is transmitted. The Giardia lamblia parasite is contained within a hard, protective shell known as a cyst. This shell enables the parasite to survive outside of its host environment (the intestines) for several months at a time. The cysts are then ingested through contaminated food or drink. The cysts can also be transmitted through person-to-person contact with someone who has the illness and through touching surfaces potentially infected with the parasite, including bathroom doors and changing tables. In fact, giardiasis is very contagious, and there have been outbreaks at daycare centers and nursing homes. Rarely, parasitic cysts can be passed to humans from dogs, cats, and other domestic animals. The parasites cannot be transmitted through blood.