Giardiasis (Giardia duodenalis)

Giardia is a parasite found in soil, food, and water contaminated by the stool or poop of the infected animal or people. 

How it spreads : This disease is usually caused or spread due to swallowing microscopic poop by coming in contact with an infected person or animal, drinking untreated water or food, contaminated with poop from infected people or pets. 

Who is at risk : Cats are at lower risk of getting infected with Giardia. It's pertinent to mention that the type of parasite that causes illness in people is not the same that infects cats. The following group of people is more prone to exposure to Giardiasis:

  • People who travel internationally. 
  • People have contact with children's diapers. 
  • Having contact with poop during sexual contact with someone is affected by this parasite. 
  • Drink untreated or unfiltered water from a pond, lake, river, stream, or spring. 
  • People who swim in natural bodies of water.

Signs in cats: Diarrhea, greasy stools, or dehydration are the most common symptoms in cats infected with Giardia.

Symptoms in people: Infected people may suffer from abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, gas, vomiting, or nausea. Sometimes people with Giardia infection may not show any particular symptoms of illness. 
 
Diagnosis: Healthcare providers must consult with a diagnostic laboratory for the appropriate testing to identify the Giardia parasites. However, if the testing is beyond the capacity of the diagnostic laboratory, the laboratory should contact public health officials to get a complete understanding of the specimen collection, submission, etc. Microscopy with direct fluorescent antibody testing (DFA) is the top choice for diagnosing the presence of Giardiasis. Other alternate techniques include:

  • Rapid immunochromatographic cartridge assays
  • Enzyme immunoassay (EIA) kits
  • Microscopy with trichrome staining
  • Molecular assays