An infection of the small intestine caused by the protozoam parasite GIARDIA LAMBLIA. Giardiasis is caused by drinking or eating contaminated water or food or by direct contact with an infected individual.
Most of those infected have no symptoms. If, however, symptoms do arise, they start between one and three weeks after initial infection. They include wind, and diarrhoea, as well as faeces that are greasy, foul smelling and tend to float in the toilet. Abdominal discomfort, swelling, loss of appetite, nausea and cramps can also arise. In certain cases, giardiasis can become chronic.
The infection is confirmed from microscopic examination of a faecal sample or by a jejuna biopsy (removal of a small sample of tissue from the middle section of the small intestine for analysis).
Acute giardiasis often clears up without treatment. Infection can be avoided in the first place by avoiding water of food that could maybe be contaminated.