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August 2010, Volume 40 Number 8 , p 66 - 66


  • Mary Y. Elkins MPH, RN


A DIARRHEAL INFECTION caused by the protozoan parasite Giardia intestinalis, giardiasis is a common cause of waterborne illness in the United States. The parasite lives in the intestines of infected humans and animals and is passed in feces. It can live outside the body for months and is found on surfaces or in soil, food, or water that's been contaminated with feces from infected humans and animals.1 Most Giardia infections result from the ingestion of infective cysts via fecal-oral transmission, usually the handling and ingestion of contaminated water or food. Person-to-person infection is also common.2The incubation period for giardiasis varies from 1 to 14 days; the acute stage lasts 1 to 3 weeks.3 Signs and symptoms usually begin about 2 weeks after infection with a feeling of intestinal discomfort followed by nausea and anorexia. High fever isn't generally associated with giardiasis, but low-grade fever and chills may be present before explosive, watery, foul-smelling diarrhea

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