Water is the elixir of life; there is hardly any creature on earth that doesn’t consume water. It is said that we need to consume about 5-6 liters of water every day. But very rarely we give a thought about how pure is the water that we drink. Is the water we drink safe and healthy? Many of you will reply – Yes, of course! We drink pure water, but unfortunately NO, when you go deep into finding the purity of water you will be surprised to know that there are millions of microorganisms swimming in your glass of water.

These microorganisms are capable of causing many serious illness and infection. These diseases that are caused by contaminated water are called as water borne diseases. There are many water borne diseases, and one is – GIARDIASIS.

Knowing about giardiasis

If your glass of water contains as few as 10 microscopic parasites called as Giardia lamblia, (also called as Giardia intestinalis) then you are sure to get infected with giardiasis

The parasite Giardia lamblia attaches itself to the inner walls of small intestine and reduces the capability of your small intestine to absorb fat and carbohydrate from the digested food.

Giardia lamblia is one of the leading causes of diarrhea in US. But, still if you bet that you drink cleaned chlorinated water, then again you will be surprised to know that Giardia lamblia can thrive effectively in normal amount of chlorine that is actually used to purify water, it can survive in cold water for more than 2 months.


Treatment for Giardiasis includes medicine that actually functions to kill the parasite. Few prescribed medicines are

  • Metronidazole – first generation of tinidazole
  • Tinidazole – acts against the cyst stage of Giardia
  • Nitazoxanide – reduces symptoms of Giardiasis
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration

Treatment usually takes 5-7 days.


It is better to prevent getting infected from giardiasis.

  • Drink treated water, and water that have been approved by your local health authority.
  • If you have to travel, carry your water bottle.
  • If unable to avoid drinking water outside, then make sure that you heat the water to rolling boil for 3 minutes.
  • Avoid drinking water from streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds
  • Practice healthy hygienic habits. Wash your hands before cooking and eating food.
  • Wash your fruits and vegetables with clean water. Have your water checked frequently.
  • Wash your hands with soap solution every time after you use the toilet.
  • Wash your child with soap solution after every diaper change.
  • Properly dispose the sewage wastes.
  • Practice safe sex, use condoms.

Giardiasis is the most common infection affecting people in US. The parasite Giardia lives in the intestine of humans and animals. Millions of Giardia parasites are released out in the bowel movement of an infected human or animal.

You may get infected by accidently or unknowingly swallowing the parasite as they are present in soil, food, water, and other surfaces that has been contaminated by the infected feces.

The parasite can spread by drinking water contaminated with Giardia lamblia or accidently swallowing water in swimming pools, river, stream, lake, fountain, which is contaminated with Giardia.

The parasite can reach your body through uncooked contaminated food and unwashed fruits and vegetables, but again be sure that you don’t wash it with contaminated water. People who travel, camp, and hike a lot, are at high risk as they drink untreated water from contaminated rivers and lake.

It can also spread from person to person in a day care or community center, or from an infected pet to you while cleaning its stool. Although humans are the preferred host for the parasite other animals such as dogs, cats, cattle, beavers, and deer carry the parasite and infect humans.

There is no standard method for diagnosing Giardiasis.

The traditional method used to confirm the presence of Giardia lamblia is examining the stool sample for the presence of Giardia cyst. Several samples might be needed before actually confirming the presence of Giardiasis. Therefore, your physician may recommend performing an ELISA test or stool antigen test.

Very rarely when the exact cause of Giardiasis is not known your doctor may use an endoscopy to check the lining of your small intestine. Small amounts of sample is taken from the small intestine and sent to the laboratory to check for Giardia parasite.

Symptoms of giardiasis usually appear 1 or 2 weeks after being infected. Few obvious symptoms of giardiasis are;

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Loose or watery, foul smelling, explosive diarrhea
  • Stomach upset
  • Excess intestinal gas
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Malabsorption of fat
  • Rarely, low grade fever

These symptoms last for almost about 2-6 weeks, occasionally longer resulting in sudden weight loss and dehydration.