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When I was a child, we simply called it Giardia and warded it off with great alarm, avoiding drinking river water, for example, particularly along the banks where it was felt more wildlife sought a quiet contemplative spot for elimination.

In fact, the most common method of contracting Giardia or Giardia Infection or, technically, Giardiasis is by drinking unsanitary or contaminated water. It is wise to avoid those areas where you feel you may be drinking something a bit less savory than water, whether that be along your parents' country house or on a trip to a country or area with less than adequate plumbing or sanitation.

Other ways of contracting diardiasis are through contact with a person who has it, or eating contaminated food. Giardiasis is a protozoal infection of the small intestine and a leading cause of diarrhea.

The true name of the flagellate protozoan which causes giardiasis is Giardia lamblia, also known as G. intestinalis. It is infinitely-wise when traveling to avoid eating or drinking contaminated substances, as travelers experience giardiasis more than anyone else. Of course it is not always possible to determine whether or not your food or water is indeed contaminated; however, often there are urban legends or rumors or gossip among travelers about certain areas and it would behoove the weary traveler to take heed of these tidbits of information and steer clear or at least come prepared with other sources of non-contaminated libations.

Other situations which can promote the spread of giardiasis are:

-Daycare, for small children
-Those who swim in public pools
- A variety of domestic and wild animals, such as dogs, cats, cattle, beavers and deer carry Giardia species and can infect humans.

Giardiasis is spread via the fecal-oral route. Making certain to wash one's hands after using the facilities is a wonderful preventative tactic. The diagnosis of giardiasis involves the identification of giardiasis cysts in the fecal material. Fortunately, most cases will resolve on their own, without treatment.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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