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Disease

G. intestinalis trophozoites in a Giemsa stained mucosal imprint. Photo credit: DPDx, CDC

Giardia trophozoites stained with trichrome. Credit: Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch, CDC

Giardiasis is the most frequently diagnosed intestinal parasitic disease in the United States and among travelers with chronic diarrhea[1]. Signs and symptoms may vary and can last for 1 to 2 weeks or longer[2,5]. In some cases, people infected with Giardia have no symptoms[2-4].

Acute symptoms include[2,4,6]:

  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Greasy stools that tend to float
  • Stomach or abdominal cramps
  • Upset stomach or nausea/vomiting
  • Dehydration (loss of fluids)

Other, less common symptoms include itchy skin, hives, and swelling of the eye and joints[2,7,8]. Sometimes, the symptoms of giardiasis might seem to resolve, only to come back again after several days or weeks. Giardiasis can cause weight loss and failure to absorb fat, lactose, vitamin A and vitamin B12[2,4,9-12].

In children, severe giardiasis might delay physical and mental growth, slow development, and cause malnutrition[2,11,13-17].

References
  1. Huang DB, White AC. An updated review on Cryptosporidium and Giardia. Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 2006;35(2):291-314, viii.
  2. Robertson LJ, Hanevik K, Escobedo AA, Morch K, Langeland N. Giardiasis--why do the symptoms sometimes never stop? Trends Parasitol. 2010;26(2):75-82.
  3. Nash TE, Herrington DA, Losonsky GA, Levine MM. Experimental human infections with Giardia lamblia. J Infect Dis. 1987;156(6):974-84.
  4. Gardner TB, Hill DR. Treatment of giardiasis. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2001;14(1):114-28.
  5. Escobedo AA, Cimerman S. Giardiasis: a pharmacotherapy review. Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2007;8(12):1885-1902.
  6. Farthing MJ. Giardiasis. Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 1996;25(3):493-515.
  7. Wolfe MS. Giardiasis. Clin Microbiol Rev. 1992;5(1):93-100.
  8. Borman P, Seckin U, Ozoran K. Beaver fever--a rare cause of reactive arthritis. J Rheumatol. 2001;28(3):683.
  9. Hill DR. Giardia lamblia. In: Gillespie SH, Pearson RD, eds. Principles and practice of clinical parasitology. Chisester, England: Joan Wiley & Sons; 2001.
  10. Notis WM. Giardiasis and vitamin B 12 malabsorption. Gastroenterology. 1972;63(6):1085.
  11. Farthing MJ. Giardia comes of age: progress in epidemiology, immunology and chemotherapy. [PDF - 4 pages] J Antimicrob Chemother. 1992;30(5):563-6.
  12. Solomons NW. Giardiasis: nutritional implications. Rev Infect Dis. 1982;4(4):859-69.
  13. Sullivan PB, Marsh MN, Phillips MB, et al. Prevalence and treatment of giardiasis in chronic diarrhoea and malnutrition. Arch Dis Child. 1991;66(3):304-6.
  14. Farthing MJ, Mata L, Urrutia JJ, Kronmal RA. Natural history of Giardia infection of infants and children in rural Guatemala and its impact on physical growth. Am J Clin Nutr. 1986;43(3):395-405.
  15. Berkman DS, Lescano AG, Gilman RH, Lopez SL, Black MM. Effects of stunting, diarrhoeal disease, and parasitic infection during infancy on cognition in late childhood: a follow-up study. Lancet. 2002;359(9306):564-71.
  16. Newman RD, Moore SR, Lima AA, Nataro JP, Guerrant RL, Sears CL. A longitudinal study of Giardia lamblia infection in north-east Brazilian children. Trop Med Int Health. 2001;6(8):624-34.
  17. Botero-Garces JH, Garcia-Montoya GM, Grisales-Patino D, Aguirre-Acevedo DC, Alvarez-Uribe MC. Giardia intestinalis and nutritional status in children participating in the complementary nutrition program, Antioquia, Colombia, May to October 2006. Rev Inst Med Trop Sao Paulo. 2009;51(3):155-62.
 
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