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  • M S Wolfe
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1992
  • Medicine


Giardiasis is one of the most common pathogenic intestinal protozoal infections worldwide. Giardia lamblia is the most frequently identified etiologic agent in outbreaks associated with the ingestion of surface water, often due to ineffective filtration or pretreatment. In addition to humans, other sources of infection include beavers, perhaps muskrats, and possibly domestic animals. A low infecting dose (10 to 25 cysts) is reported to be sufficient to produce human infection. Clinical manifestations range from asymptomatic to a transient or persistent acute stage, with steatorrhea, intermittent diarrhea, and weight loss, or to a subacute or chronic stage that can mimic gallbladder or peptic ulcer disease. Diagnosis is usually based on repeated stool examinations but examination of duodenal fluid or biopsy material may also be necessary. Enzyme immunoassay or indirect immunofluorescence methods for direct detection of antigen or whole organisms in clinical specimens have also been developed. These tests are reported to be more sensitive than routine stool examination. Demonstration of serum immunoglobulin M and G antibodies may help differentiate recent from past infection or help detect recurrence in individuals who have been treated previously. Serum immunoglobulin A levels may be a useful indicator of exposure in waterborne outbreaks of diarrhea. Drugs available for treatment within the United States include metronidazole, quinacrine hydrochloride, and furazolidone.

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