Giardia infection

Giardia infection: Description, Causes and Risk Factors:Giardia infectionGiardiasis is an infection of the small intestine caused by Giardia lamblia(a flattened, heart-shaped organism (10-20 ?m in length) with 8 flagella; it attaches itself to the intestinal mucosa by means of a pair of sucking organs; it is usually asymptomatic except in heavy infections, when it may interfere with absorption of fats and produce flatulence, steatorrhea, and acute discomfort; it is the common species of Giardia in man, but is also found in pigs, also known as G. intestinalis), a flagellate protozoan.Giardia infection is the most commonly reported pathogenic protozoan disease in the US. Travelers are the largest risk group for giardiasis infection, especially those who travel to the developing world. Giardia infection is prevalent among hikers and campers, people who swim in public pools, children who attend daycare, and in homosexual males. Others at high risk include close contacts of infected people and those who have contact with infected animals.Giardia infection spread via the fecal-oral route. Most people contract the disease by ingesting contaminated water or food, or by not washing their hands after touching something contaminated with Giardia cysts. Although humans are the main reservoir of the parasite, a variety of domestic and wild animals, such as dogs, cats, cattle, beavers and deer carry Giardia species and can infect humans.The incubation period for infection is generally 9-15 days.It infects nearly 2% of adults and 6% to 8% of children in developed countries worldwide. Nearly 33% of people in developing countries have had Giardia infection. In the US, Giardia infection is the most common intestinal parasitic disease affecting humans.Symptoms:The major symptom of giardia infection is protracted diarrhea. The acute stage usually begins with a feeling of intestinal uneasiness followed by nausea and anorexia.Low-grade fever and chills may occur. These symptoms are followed by watery, foul-smelling, explosive diarrhea, abdominal pain, passage of foul gas and belching.Other common symptoms of giardia infection include abdominal pain, flatulence, bloating, vomiting and weight loss.Symptoms vary from person-to-person, often depending on the inoculum size, duration of infection, and individual host and parasite factors.Diagnosis:Differential diagnosis may include:Cryptosporidium parvum.
  • Cyclospora coyetanesis.
  • E. histolytica infection (amebiasis).
  • Dientameoba fragilis.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
  • Gallbladder or pancreatic disease.
Giardia infection is diagnosed by the detection of cysts or trophozoites in the feces, trophozoites in the small intestine, or by the detection of Giardia antigens in the feces.Because Giardia cysts can be excreted intermittently, multiple stool collections increase test sensitivity. The use of concentration methods and trichrome staining might not be sufficient to identify Giardia because variability in the concentration of organisms in the stool can make this infection difficult to diagnose. For this reason, fecal immunoassays that are more sensitive and specific should be used.Rapid immune-chromatographic cartridge assays also are available but should not take the place of routine ova and parasite examination. Only molecular testing eg PCR (polymerase chain reaction) can be used to identify the subtypes of Giardia.Treatment:Approved therapies currently available in the US include tinidazole and nitazoxanide. Giardiasis cure rates with single-dose tinidazole therapy range from 80-100%. Metronidazole also has high degree of potency against protozoan organisms like Giardia. Different factors may shape how effective a drug regimen will be, including medical history, nutritional status, and condition of the immune system. Therefore, it is important to discuss treatment options with a health care provider.You should avoid alcohol and milky products for a few weeks since a bad dose of Giardia will often produce temporary intolerance to milk lactose.NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.

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