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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Giardiasis


Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Giardiasis is a gastrointestinal infection that causes diarrhea. It is caused by a parasite called Giardia lamblia, or Giardia intestinalis.

What is going on in the body?

Giardiasis occurs all over the world. The infection is found in the stool of an infected person or animal. It can be excreted into the environment. The parasite has a protective shell that allows it to live for long periods of time in the environment. It can be found in drinking water and in recreational bodies of water, such as lakes. Giardiasis is the most common waterborne disease in the United States.

What are the causes and risks of the infection?

Giardiasis is spread by contact with the parasite that causes the infection. The parasite can be found in food, water, soil, and other surfaces contaminated by stool from an infected person. A person can be infected in several ways:

  • accidentally swallowing stool from surfaces, such as bathroom fixtures and toys
  • eating contaminated food, especially raw fruits and vegetables
  • ingesting stool from dirty diapers, diaper pails, or changing tables
  • ingesting the parasite during oral-anal or oral-genital sex
  • swallowing infected water from swimming pools, lakes, hot tubs, fountains, or streams
  • using a contaminated drinking water source
  • using poor hygiene after handling feces of an infected person


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    Giardiasis: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Danielle Zerr, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 09/10/01

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