Giardiasis is an infection of the small intestines that is caused by an infective agent called Giardia lamblia. The very disease features with diarrhea, bloating and cramps. The diarrhea is abundant and watery. The infection spreads via the contaminated water. Even the fruit and vegetables can be contaminated with this parasite in case that they are washed with contaminated water.
The parasite can be present in lakes and streams. Still even some municipal water supplies may be contaminated with Giardia lamblia. It can also be present in swimming pools and wells.
Fortunately, the infection can be successfully eradicated after six weeks. In spite of this fact one may experience stomach problems long after the infection has gone.
Causes of Giardia Infection
This tiny little parasite is normally present in the intestines of both, people and animals. The parasites are present in cysts and the cysts actually allow them to live longer and not to be damaged by stomach acid. Still once the parasite reaches the small intestines the cyst breaks, the parasite is released and the symptoms of the infection occur.
People are most commonly infected by contaminated water. Still even the food can be the source of this parasite. Stagnant water is excellent place for multiplication of the parasite. Giardia may be present in rivers, lakes and ponds. Spas are excellent place for giardia. Nonetheless the infection will only occur if the contaminated water is consumed. In case one is only swimming in the water that contains these parasites he/ she will not get the infection.
Food can also be contaminated either if it has been washed with water that contains parasites or if the person who is preparing the food transmits the parasite from his/ her hands. This is why the hygiene of the hands prior the food preparation is essential. However, the high temperatures kill the parasite. This is why the parasite can be only ingested in case a person consumes raw food.
One more way of transmission includes anal sex.
There are people who are at higher risk of getting the disease. Children are rather susceptible to giardia infection. This also includes parents of small children as they manipulate with the diapers of children who might have got the parasite in child care center. Employees at child care center are also prone to this disease. People who practice anal sex can get disease unless they use condoms. And in certain countries giardia is endemic. This is why people who travel to these countries are at higher risk of getting giardia infection.