Giardiasis

Giardiasis, beaver fever, or giardial infection, is an infection of the digestive system. Some people will develop severe abdominal discomfort and diarrhea, but others have no symptoms. It is caused by parasite, a single-celled organism called Giardia lamblia. Giardiasis occurs all over the world.

  • Giardiasis is caused by a globally present parasite - Giardia intestinalis
  • The majority of infected individuals do not show any symptoms
  • An estimated 200 million people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America have symptomatic infections
  • Keeping hands clean is essential to reduce transfer of the parasite
  • When traveling abroad, avoid having ice in drinks

Giardiasis occurs when infective cysts enter the body. Transmission can be from person-to-person, through water supplies, or through sexual intercourse. Poor hand-washing can significantly increase the spread of infection. If an infected person does not wash their hands after using the bathroom, they can spread the disease by shaking someone's hand, touching a surface, or handling food. Food borne giardiasis epidemics can occur through food contamination by infected food handlers. Infected infants can transmit infection if the person changing the diaper does not wash their hands properly. In the U.S., giardiasis is more common during the summer. This may be due to people spending more time doing outdoor activities and traveling in the wilderness.

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