Giardia Lamblia - Describe Your Experience

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What is giardiasis?

Giardiasis (gee-ar-die-a-sis with a soft "G") is an infection of the small intestine that is caused by the parasite, Giardia intestinalis, also known as Giardia lamblia. It is the most common cause of parasitic gastrointestinal disease; it is estimated that 20,000 cases of giardiasis occur each year in the U.S., and there is a 20% to 30% prevalence in the world's population.

Giardia lamblia exists in two forms, an active form called a trophozoite, and an inactive form called a cyst. The active trophozoite attaches to the lining of the small intestine with a "sucker" and is responsible for causing the signs and symptoms of giardiasis. The trophozoite cannot live long outside of the body, therefore it cannot spread the infection to others. The inactive cyst, on the other hand, can exist for prolonged periods outside the body. When it is ingested, stomach acid activates the cyst, and the cyst develops into the disease-causing trophozoite. It takes ingestion of only ten cysts to cause infection. Trophozoites are important not only because they cause the symptoms of giardiasis, but also because they produce the cysts that exit the body in the feces and spread the infection to others.

Cysts of Giardia are present in the feces of infected persons. Thus, the infection is spread from person to person by contamination of food with feces, or by direct fecal-oral contamination. Cysts also survive in water, for example in fresh water lakes and streams. As a result, giardiasis is the most common cause of water-borne, parasitic illness in the U.S.. Domestic mammals (for example, dogs, cats, calves) and wild mammals (for example, beavers) can become infected with Giardia; however, it is not clear how often domestic or wild mammals transmit giardiasis to humans. Giardiasis also has occurred as outbreaks from recreational water sources such as swimming pools, water parks, and hot tubs, most likely because of an infected user rather than a source of water that was contaminated.

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Comment from: Mrs. C, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: January 27

We got a kitten a couple weeks ago and he was just diagnosed with Giardia lamblia and coccidia. I knew something was wrong because his belly was kind of bloated. Unfortunately, I think I may have picked it up from playing with him before we got him checked out. I picked up C. difficile in the hospital 2 years ago and really hope this doesn't hurt as bad as that. I've had insane heart burn and some abdominal cramping the last 2 days. Going to wait a few more days and see how it goes. But for those of you saying you are seeing the cysts or worms in your stool, that's not giardia. You can't see it without a microscope.

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Comment from: Simon, 19-24 Male (Patient) Published: April 15

I'm 20 years old, and I live in a big city. I've never been camping or have drunk contaminated water. I really think I got giardia lamblia from the ground or got it from someone else. I'm usually a really anxious person, so chewing on pencils or pens is normal to me, I don't usually wash them, and I know it's bad. So anyway I got really bad gasses over a week and I felt almost sick every single time I ate something. Then during Easter I got the worst case of diarrhea I've gotten in years. It was pretty bad. I went to a doctor, his medicines didn't do anything, and I had to run to another emergency room during the morning. The doctor immediately asked for a stool examination, which I did. I got the results a week later, while the medicines he gave me were helping ok. I got my results today, they say it might be a case of giardia. I'm sure it is, throughout the week I've felt a little weak, depressed, I feel like I weigh a lot less and absolutely everything upsets my stomach, although I keep trying to eat healthy and stuff. If you feel like you have this and experience such symptoms, visit a microbiologist now and do the stool test. I'm a bit scares this parasite might never go away, or that it'll be there for years.

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