Giardia is a parasite that can cause intestinal symptoms in an infected person. Symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, belching, gas and cramps that occur while camping or traveling in a third world country are highly suspicious of giardiasis. Outbreaks at daycare centers have also been reported. It is transmitted by drinking contaminated, untreated water from lakes, streams and rivers, as well as by direct contact. When camping or hiking, always boil your water, and wash your hands thoroughly with boiled water and soap. Daycare workers should wash their hands between each diaper change. When traveling in third world countries, drink bottled water or boil that which comes from the tap. Peel all raw fruit and vegetables.
Consult a physician if you suspect you have giardiasis. He/she will need a stool sample and, if positive for the parasite (see photo), will put you on metronidazole for ten days. Children under five are typically treated with furazolidone. The entire family should be prescribed antibiotics due how easily the parasite is transmitted.
If you are experiencing symptoms listed above and are a member of North Idaho Direct Primary Care, contact our office to set up an appointment. If you are not a member and would like to learn about North Idaho Direct Primary Care, click here to learn more. If you found this article helpful, you may sign up for our monthly newsletter here.