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Cryptosporidium and Giardia

Giardia / giardiasis / beaver fever

Cryptosporidium / cryptosporidiosis

Giardia and Cryptosporidium are microscopic parasites that cause intestinal illness and can be transmitted in a number of ways:

  • Eating contaminated food
  • Drinking contaminated water
  • Swallowing contaminated water while swimming or bathing
  • Having contact with animal or human faeces
  • Sexual contact with an infected individual

Some people may be at greater risk from Cryptosporidium and Giardia than the general population. People that have undergoing chemotherapy, organ transplants or dialysis; and those with HIV/AIDS can be at a greater risk of infection. Symptoms of infection can include:

  • Watery diarrhoea which can be foul-smelling and explosive
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Mild to high temperature of between 37-38ºC
  • Foul-smelling flatulence
  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Indigestion
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss, as much as 4.5kg/10 pounds

These symptoms can come and go, but usually last no longer than 30 days. A small number of people go on to develop chronic giadiasis, causing persistent or repeated bouts of diarrhoea lasting for up to two years.

Treatment

Giardia can be treated using either metronidazole or Tinidazole, they kill the parasites that caused the infection initially. They are taken orally in tablet form; the recommended course of treatment will depend on factors such as your age and body weight.

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