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Giardiasis is an intestinal disease of people, dogs, cats, and other animals.  It is caused by a microorganism called Giardia, which is swallowed when the animal eats contaminated stool, food, or water.  Giardia principally infects the upper small intestine.  Infected individuals pass the infective cysts in their stool, and the cycle begins again.  Diagnosis may be difficult; therefore, repeated microscopic examinations of multiple stool samples are often needed to find the cysts, and occasionally, a special ELISA test is needed as well.

The most common sign of infection is persistent diarrhea, with pale, greasy, and occasionally blood-tinged stool.  Giardia prevents proper absorption of nutrients, damages the delicate intestinal lining, and interferes with digestion.

Public Health Significance

Giardia is a relatively common intestinal parasite in people.  Good personal hygiene should be practiced in homes where giardiasis has been diagnosed in a pet.  Your pet's stool should be cleaned up and properly disposed of.  Children should not be allowed to handle the stool.

Important Points in Treatment

1. Laboratory tests are required to evaluate the patient’s response during and after treatment.

2. Giardia can remain infective in your yard even during a frost for years.  It is not killed by bleach or chlorine, and this means it can also persist in a swimming pool.  In fact, this is one of the most common modes of transmission.

3. Give all medication as directed.  Call the doctor if you cannot give the medication.

Notify the Doctor if Any of the Following Occur:

  • Your pet's diarrhea persists.
  • Your pet's general health worsens.

2 weeks after the last dose, a stool sample is requested. The sample should be less than 24 hours old

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