Giardiasis: What should I know?

Giardiasis is an ailment affecting the small intestines that is brought about by the Giardia intestinalis parasite. It spreads via contaminated water or food or via personal contact.


  • Fever
  • Mild to severe watery diarrhea
  • Chills
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss

    These symptoms might manifest from 3-25 days after exposure. In most cases, it is usually 10 days after exposure.

  • Bloating

These symptoms might manifest from 3-25 days after exposure. In most cases, it is usually 10 days after exposure.

Giardiasis spreads via contact or exposure to infectious feces of animals or humans. Contaminated water and food might contain cysts which are immediately infectious if ingested.

Is the disease common?

Giardiasis is a prevalent ailment all over the world but common in countries with poor sanitation. Many hikers and campers who drink from unsanitary water sources have been reported to acquire giardiasis.

Management of giardiasis

Giardiasis is managed with prescription medications. The commonly used prescription drugs include metronidazole, nitazoxanide and tinidazole. The medication works by eliminating the parasite.

The treatment generally takes 5-7 days. Remember that every prescribed drug should be taken as instructed. Even though most cases respond to a single course of medication, it is not uncommon for some to require another course if the response is not effective.


  • Observe good hygiene – regularly wash hands using water and soap for 20 seconds especially after using the toilet, before and after eating and if there was contact with others who are sick.
  • Avoid drinking contaminated water – this includes water from lakes, pools, ponds and rivers. In case there is a minimal chance of the water to be contaminated, either boil the water for 5 minutes or drink bottled water.
  • Do not eat food that might be contaminated – thoroughly wash all vegetables and fruits using hot water. Avoid eating raw or undercooked meats.
  • Cleaning up after sick pets – wear gloves and properly dispose of pet wastes in a plastic bag and place in a garbage bin. The area should be cleaned with hot steaming water and a strong disinfectant.


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