Illness & Symptoms
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.
- 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.
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- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Page last reviewed: July 21, 2015
- Page last updated: July 21, 2015
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