Giardiasis is the intestinal infection resulting from infestation with the human parasite Giardia intestinalis, also called Giardia lamblia. The infection may be asymptomatic or present with a variety of symptoms such as diarrhoea, weight loss, abdominal cramps, and failure to thrive. Giardiasis is most often diagnosed after recent travel or in day care centres. The organism has two stages in its life cycle. It is usually ingested as a cyst with as few as 10-25 cysts being sufficient to cause infection. After excystation, the organism is a replicative trophozoite which may attach to the small bowel wall. Giardia intestinalis does not invade the bowel wall. Trophozoites may encyst and be shed in faeces for future ingestion by another host. Diagnosis of infection is by stool examination which may also eliminate other possible infectious agents. Small bowel biopsy may be necessary in difficult individual cases or to rule out non-infectious illnesses, and stool ELISA may serve for large population screening examinations. The mainstay of treatment is metronidazole 250-400 mg three times per day by mouth for 5 days.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)