Prevention and Control
Giardia germs spread easily from one person to another; just a small amount of Giardia germs can make someone sick. Because the Giardia germs are in stool (poop), anything that gets contaminated by poop can potentially spread the germs. Understanding how to prevent the spread of Giardia germs can help you protect yourself and your loved ones from getting sick.
- Help keep yourself and your loved ones healthy by washing your hands often with soap and water, especially during key times when you are likely to spread germs.
- Since Giardia germs can be found in soil, wash hands with soap and water after field work, landscaping, or gardening, even if you were wearing gloves.
At childcare facilities
- Exclude children who are sick with diarrhea from childcare settings until the diarrhea has stopped.
- Clean, sanitize, or disinfect toys and surfaces.
- Wash hands regularly with soap and water to keep kids and caregivers healthy.
- Encourage good diapering practices.
At the pool, lake, and other places we swim
- Do not swallow the water.
- Do not swim or let kids swim if sick with diarrhea.
- Shower before you get in the water.
- Take young children on frequent bathroom breaks or check diapers every hour. Change diapers in a bathroom or diaper-changing area —not waterside—to keep germs and poop out of the water.
- Minimize contact with the poop of all animals, especially young animals. Do not touch your face or mouth after being near animals, and wash your hands as soon as possible after touching animals or anything in the area where they live and roam.
- Do not drink untreated water or use ice made with water from lakes, rivers, springs, ponds, streams, or shallow wells.
- If you are not sure if your drinking water is safe:
Many filters that remove Giardia and other parasites do not remove bacteria or viruses, so you may need to boil or disinfect filtered water to make it safe to drink.
- Do not eat fruits and vegetables washed in water that might be contaminated.
- Avoid eating uncooked foods when traveling in countries where the food supply might be unsafe.
- Do not use or drink inadequately treated water or use ice when traveling in countries where the water might be unsafe.
- Giardia may be in poop for several weeks, so wait to have sex (vaginal, anal, and oral) for several weeks after you or your partner no longer have diarrhea.
- If you do have sex, reduce your contact with poop during sex by:
- Washing your hands, genitals, and anus with soap and water before and after sexual activity.
- Using barrier methods during sex, such as condoms and dental dams or cut-open condoms. Dental dams are latex or polyurethane sheets used between the mouth and vagina or anus during oral sex. Ready-to-use dental dams can be purchased or you can make a dental dam by cutting open a condom.
Giardia is hard to eliminate from a contaminated environment, but you can reduce the chances of getting sick or of your dog or cat being reinfected if it has been sick. The risk of getting sick from a Giardia infection from your dog or cat is small, but there are some steps you can take to minimize your exposure.
Always wear disposable gloves to clean and disinfect your home.
Hard (Non-Porous) Surfaces (for example, tile floors, pet crates, tables, trash cans)
- Remove poop and discard it in a plastic bag.
- Clean and scrub surfaces using soap or a detergent solution. Rinse surface thoroughly until no obvious visible contamination is present.
- Clean the area or item with soap and water or another detergent if it is dirty. Then, use a household disinfectant.
- Follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product.
- Many products recommend:
- Keeping surfaces wet for a period of time (see product label).
- Precautions such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.
Soft (Porous) Surfaces (for example, carpeted floor, rugs, drapes)
- If poop is on carpet or upholstered furniture, remove it with absorbent material (for example, double-layered paper towels).
- Place and discard the poop in a plastic bag.
- Clean the contaminated area with regular detergent or carpet cleaning agent.
- Allow carpet or upholstered furniture to fully dry.
- Read the product labels for specifications and follow all instructions.
Other Items (toys, clothing, pet bed, etc.)
- Household items should be cleaned and disinfected daily if a dog or cat is being treated for Giardia infection.
- Dishwasher-safe toys and water and food bowls can be disinfected in a dishwasher that has a dry cycle or a final rinse cycle.
- If a dishwasher is not available, submerge dishwasher-safe items in boiling water for at least 1 minute (at elevations above 6,500 feet, boil for 3 minutes).
- Clothing, some pet items (for example, bedding and cloth toys), and linens (sheets and towels) can be washed in the washing machine and then heat-dried on the highest heat setting for 30 minutes.
- If a clothes dryer is not available, allow clothes to thoroughly air dry under direct sunlight.