Giardia is a single cell protozoa having a flagella. It resides in the small intestine of the host and infects humans. This protozoa also causes infection in vertebrates, other than humans, especially in domestic cats. The Giardia parasite is the cause of a disease named giardiasis. Prime symptoms of this disease are diarrhea and cramps. Along with this you may also experience symptoms of weight loss, nausea, fatigue, vomiting, flatulence and bloating. The symptoms usually last for a week or two depending on the severity of the infection. This parasite is known to infect humans all across the globe.
A common source of the giardia protozoa is fecal matter of human and animals. Infection occurs on ingestion of the parasite. This usually happens by accident when an individual puts something into the mouth that has come in contact with infected fecal matter containing the giardia parasite. Again improper hand washing or unwashed hands can be a prime cause of ingesting the virus.
The parasite is also transmitted into the human body through contaminated water. The giardia protozoa is found streams, bath tubs, rivers, ponds, swimming pools and lakes that may be contaminated with fecal matter. Sometimes people swallow water that contains traces of fecal matter, which in turn transmit the protozoa into body causing an infection.
An infected person with giardia infection can transmit the infection to others unconsciously. So, to avoid contracting or acquiring the infection, you should wash your hands thoroughly before touching food products, consuming meals and after visiting the toilet. If a person is detected with the giardia protozoa, he or she should be barred from swimming for a week or two till the symptoms of infection has been treated and cured. It is also possible that a person is infected with the parasite but shows no preliminary symptoms. But, this does mean that he or she cannot spread the disease. Though the person is asymptomatic, he or she may still be a viable medium of transfer of the giardia protozoa to others.
Giardia infection can be diagnosed with the help of a stool test. Detection of the virus is sometimes difficult and the physician may conduct one or more stool test to confirm a giardia infection. Once the parasite is detected medical treatment is meted out to cure the infection.
So, do not drink untreated water especially in camps and places of recreation or from ponds, lakes and wells. Boil water if necessary. Secondly, always wash your hands thoroughly before meals and after going to the toilet. Remember prevention is better than cure!