Cryptosporidium/Giardia DFA

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Cryptosporidium and Giardia are protozoa which cause the intestinal illnesses cryptosporidiosis and giardiasis, respectively. These disorders are transmitted by eating contaminated food, drinking contaminated water, swallowing contaminated water while swimming or bathing, having contact with animal or human feces, and certain sexual practices. According to the USEPA and the Centers for disorder Control and Prevention (CDC), it is unclear how most cases of cryptosporidiosis in the United States are contracted. Symptoms of infection include nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. Individuals who think they may have cryptosporidiosis or giardiasis should contact their health care providers.
Some people may be at greater risk from cryptosporidiosis and giardiasis than the general population. Immuno-compromised people, such as individuals undergoing chemotherapy; those who've undergone organ transplants or dialysis; and those with HIV/AIDS or other immune system diseases, can be at increased risk. These people should seek advice from their health care providers about taking steps to limit their exposure to the protozoa that cause infection. One of these steps includes boiling tap water for one minute.

Giardiasis is caused by the ingestion of infective cysts. There are multiple modes of transmission including person-to-person, water-borne, and venereal. Person-to-person transmission accounts for a majority of Giardia infections and is usually associated with poor hygiene and sanitation. Water-borne transmission is common in United States. Giardia epidemics, which are often associated with the ingestion of unfiltered water (contaminated). Venereal transmission happens through fecal-oral contamination. Additionally, diaper changing and inadequate hand washing are risk factors for transmission from infected children. Lastly, food-borne epidemics of Giardia have developed through the contamination of food by infected food-handlers.
Giardiasis is spread during periods of heavy rains, such as monsoon runoff.

Giardia infection is an intestinal infection marked by abdominal cramps, bloating, nausea and bouts of watery diarrhea. Giardia infection is caused by a microscopic parasite that is found worldwide, especially in areas with poor sanitation and unsafe water.
Giardia infection (giardiasis) is one of the most common causes of waterborne disorder in the United States. The parasites are found in backcountry streams and lakes, but also in municipal water supplies, swimming pools, whirlpool spas and wells. Giardia infection can be transmitted through food and person-to-person contact.
Giardia infections usually clear up within six weeks. But you may have intestinal problems long after the parasites are gone. Several drugs are generally effective against giardia parasites, but not everyone responds to them. Prevention is your best defense.

Some people with giardia infection never develop signs or symptoms but still carry the parasite and can spread it to others through their stool. For those who do get sick, signs and symptoms usually appear one to two weeks after exposure and may include:
·Watery, sometimes foul-smelling diarrhea that may alternate with soft, greasy stools  
·Abdominal cramps and bloating  
·Belching gas with a bad taste  
·Weight loss  
Signs and symptoms of giardia infection usually improve in two to six weeks, but in some people they last longer or recur.
Giardia parasites live in the intestines of people and animals. Before the microscopic parasites are passed in stool, they become encased within hard shells called cysts, which allows them to survive outside the intestines for months. Once inside a host, the cysts dissolve and the parasites are released.
Infection occurs when you accidentally ingest the parasites. This can occur by swallowing contaminated water, by eating contaminated food, or through person-to-person contact
Giardia infection is almost never fatal in industrialized countries, but it can cause lingering symptoms and serious complications, especially in infants and children under age 5. The most common complications include:
·Dehydration. Often a result of severe diarrhea, dehydration occurs when the body doesn't have enough water to carry out its normal functions.  
·Failure to thrive. Chronic diarrhea from giardia infection can lead to malnutrition and harm children's physical and mental development.  
·Lactose intolerance. Many people with giardia infection develop lactose intolerance — the inability to properly digest milk sugar. The problem may persist long after the infection has cleared.  
When signs and symptoms are severe or the infection persists, doctors usually treat giardiasis with medications such as:
·Metronidazole (Flagyl). Metronidazole is the most commonly used antibiotic for giardia infection. Side effects may include nausea and a metallic taste in the mouth. Don't drink alcohol while taking this medication.  
·Tinidazole (Tindamax). Tinidazole works as well as metronidazole and has many of the same side effects, but it can be given in a single dose.  
·Nitazoxanide (Alinia). Because it comes in a liquid form, nitazoxanide may be easier for children to swallow.  
·Paromomycin. Although paromomycin is less effective than other treatments, it also is less likely to cause birth defects during pregnancy.  

Also you should know
Currently, there is no vaccine to protect humans from acquiring giardiasis, nor does chlorinating municipal water protect against giardia. Thus, various public health and prevention strategies should be taken to decrease risk of infection.
·Avoid contaminated water. Hikers and overseas travelers to developing countries should consider all water sources contaminated and thus boil, filter, or treat all water with halogenated tablets or solutions. Freeze food as cysts cannot withstand the freeze cycle.  
·Avoid foods washed in contaminated water or that cannot be cooked or peeled, which is especially important for travelers to developing countries. Using only bottled water and avoiding raw fruits and vegetables decreases risk of infection dramatically.  
·Wash hands frequently, especially before eating and after using the bathroom, with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Similarly, wash children with soap and water after diaper changes and before getting back into water (pool, lake, etc.)  
·Avoid swallowing water in swimming pools and spas. Since public pools are not always adequately treated, they act as a potential source of Giardia contamination. Ultimately, practice good hygiene including avoiding contact with the feces of an infected person. Being aware of this helps to prevent spread of the infection.  
·Practice safer sex. If you engage in anal sex, use a condom every time. Avoid oral-anal sex unless you're fully protected.  

All information on this page is intended for your general knowledge only and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.