Giardiasis is a condition caused by a microscopic parasite called Giardia lamblia. Giardiasis lives in the intestines of the person or animal infected and is spread through contact with the stool. People become infected by eating or drinking food or water (contaminated by feces), even if it's only trace amounts.
Domesticated dogs and cats also frequently contract giardia. Water sources that contain this parasite include streams and rivers, but the parasite can also be found in swimming pools, wells and spas. While giardia usually clears up on its own within a few weeks, it can prove dangerous if left untreated.1‘Giardia Infection (Giardiasis).’ Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 17 Nov. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/giardia-infection/symptoms-causes/syc-20372786
One of the most prevalent symptoms of giardiasis is diarrhea with loose, greasy stools that commonly float. This symptom is usually the first to show up with a giardia infection and can occur two to five times a day once it starts. This can last for the duration of the illness, which can be two to six weeks without treatment.
Diarrhea can be dangerous due to risk of dehydration, so those with diarrhea should drink plenty of fluids to compensate for the fluids lost. Severe diarrhea can also lead to other symptoms, including weight loss.2‘General Information.’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 Feb. 2021, www.cdc.gov/parasites/giardia/general-info.html