Symptoms and Prevention of Giardia

Giardia is a food and water-borne disease that is caused by a parasite found in the gut of infected humans and animals (eg, cattle, sheep, cats, dogs, rats and possums).

Giardia is passed on in the feces of infected humans and animals. People become infected when they swallow the parasites. Eliminate the risk of Giardia with an Eagle Water Reverse Osmosis System.

You get giardia from:

  • drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated food
  • being in contact with infected animals that are carrying the parasite
  • being in close contact with someone who has giardia
  • swallowing water that contains the giardia parasite while you’re swimming or playing in lakes, rivers, springs, ponds, streams, etc.

Signs you may have Giardia:

  • foul smelling diarrhea
  • stomach cramps and abdominal pain
  • nausea and vomiting
  • weight loss
  • bloating
  • slight fever
  • loss of appetite
  • headache
  • fatigue

Your symptoms usually appear 7–10 days after you become infected. You may be sick for 3–4 days, feel better, then the symptoms may return.

If you think you may have Giardia:

  • Go to your doctor. Take a specimen of your feces with you in a clean jar, as you’ll need a laboratory test.
  • If you do have Giardia, your doctor will prescribe Flagyl or Dyzole.
  • While the diarrhea lasts, drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. Filtered water is safest.
  • If you have a child that is ill and they're not drinking, go back to your doctor.

Giardia is a notifiable disease, so before you go back to work (or your child returns to daycare or school) you’ll need to check with your doctor. Usually you’ll be clear when your symptoms have gone.

To avoid getting Giardia – or passing it on:

  • Avoid drinking water that may be contaminated – don’t drink untreated water from lakes, rivers or streams, or from an area where the water is unsafe because of poor sanitation or where there are no water treatment systems.
  • If you have to drink water that is taken from a roof, river or lake (eg, in a rural area), it should be put through an approved filter.
  • When swimming in swimming pools, hot pools or spa pools, do not swallow the water.
  • Don’t go swimming in a pool if you have diarrhea. You need to wait at least 2 weeks after the symptoms have gone and wash your hands before going for a swim.
  • To stop Giardia from spreading, wash your hands before and after preparing food, after playing or working with animals, and after going to the washroom or changing a baby’s diaper. You need to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water, rinse well and dry them on a clean towel.

To prevent Gardia, give your family a pets only purified water. For more information please contact Eagle Water head office at 1-800-363-6365 or for Ontario residents 1-866-427-7757.