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Giardiasis

What Is It?

Giardiasis is an infectious illness which can be food or water borne. It is recognised initially by the symptoms. These can include watery diarrhoea, abdominal pain, wind, vomiting, fever, weight loss and constipation. These symptoms can last for up to several weeks.

How Is It Caused?

It is caused by microscopic parasites that enter the body through the mouth, usually through contact by unwashed hands or by consuming infected food or drink.

Possible routes of the infection are: -

  • Eating food prepared by someone already suffering from Giardiasis.
  • Contact with streams, ponds and similar untreated watercourses.
  • Drinking unchlorinated water.How is it spread?

Is It Contagious?

If an infected person does not wash his or her hands properly after going to the toilet, their hands may be contaminated with the parasite. They can then pass the infection on, either by direct contact with other people, or, indirectly, by preparing food or drink that someone else then consumes.

What Precautionary Measures Can I Take?

Thorough hand washing is vital: -

  • After going to the toilet
  • Before preparing or serving food or drink
  • After handling raw meat and vegetables
  • After handling pets or their food bowls
  • Use hot, soapy water and a nailbrush.

You should also...

Avoid swallowing water when participating in water sports.

Only drink mains or treated water and make sure that the water tank in your loft is covered to stop birds getting in.

When on holiday abroad it may be safer to use bottled water.

Always wash fruit and vegetables. When abroad it may be safer to use bottled water.

Take care when changing the nappies of infected babies.

Regularly disinfect toilets.

Will I Need Treatment?

Antibiotics are sometimes used in the treatment of this infection. Your doctor will be decide if you or your family would benefit from such treatment.

Do I Need To Submit Samples?

In some cases, it may be necessary to collect specimens of faeces for analysis to confirm the presence of a pathogenic organism. The results can help in determining the possible source of an infection.

Where it is felt necessary to submit a faecal sample, an Environmental Health Officer will contact you. You will be given a special container and full instructions on collecting a sample. The sample will be sent to a laboratory for analysis and you will be advised of the outcome. It can take up to five working days for the results to come through, so please be patient.