Giardiasis is an infection caused by a parasite called Giardia.
The parasite lives in the animal or human intestine. Bowel movements can spread the parasite to soil, water, or food. Vegetables or fruit can be contaminated by contact with this soil or water. Contaminated food usually looks and smells normal.
Your child may get infected if your child:
Symptoms usually start 1 to 2 weeks after exposure to the parasite. Symptoms may include:
Sometimes it doesn’t cause any symptoms.
Your healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms, activities, and medical history and examine your child. Be sure to tell your provider if your child has been hiking or camping; has been swimming in a lake, pond, or river; or has traveled outside the country recently. A sample of bowel movement will be tested. You may be asked to submit several bowel movement samples collected from your child over several days.
Your child’s healthcare provider may prescribe medicine that will kill the parasite. Your child may not need medicine if he does not have symptoms. However, treatment can help keep your child from spreading the parasite to others, for example, in a day care center. Talk to your healthcare provider about this. Also talk to your child’s provider if your child has side effects from the medicine.
Symptoms of giardiasis may last 2 to 6 weeks. Sometimes they last longer.
Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions. Make sure that your child takes medicine exactly as it is prescribed. If your child stops taking the medicine too soon, the infection may come back. If you have side effects from your medicine, talk to your provider.
Here are some things your child can do to feel better:
Ask your child’s healthcare provider:
Make sure you know if or when your child should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.
These steps can help prevent giardiasis and food poisoning: