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Giardiasis is a parasitic infection of the upper small intestine. There may be no symptoms or it can cause acute or chronic diarrhoea with abdominal discomfort, distension and flatulence.
Giardia is considered to be the commonest parasite in Europe and the USA and particularly among children.
Giardiasis is a common traveler's infection among tourists and business travelers to developing countries, namely the Soviet Union, Mexico, Southeast Asia, and western South America.
Giardia cysts are spread via the faecal-oral route. Cysts may be ingested with contaminated food or water, or acquired from unwashed hands. Infection can be spread from person to person indirectly by water, by faecal-oral contamination with cysts or occasionally by food. Giardia cysts are able to survive in fresh water, and it is the most common cause of epidemic waterborne diarrhoeal disease.
Giardia cysts are quite resistant to chlorination, making water filtration the key to effective water treatment. Since Giardia cysts can sometimes be isolated from filtered drinking water, however, boiling water is the best way to kill chlorine-resistant Giardia cysts.
The major symptom of acute giardiasis is protracted diarrhoea. The incubation period for infection is generally 9-15 days. The acute stage usually begins with a feeling of intestinal uneasiness followed by nausea and anorexia. Low grade fever and chills may occur. These symptoms are followed by watery, foul-smelling, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, passage of foul gas and belching. This stage lasts for 3-4 days, often resembling other causes of travelers' diarrhoea, so giardiasis may go undiagnosed. If left untreated, symptoms may persist for months. Malabsorption due to chronic Giardia infection has also been reported.
Other common symptoms of giardiasis include abdominal pain, flatulence, bloating, vomiting and weight loss. Symptoms vary from person to person, often depending on the inoculum size, duration of infection, and individual host and parasite factors.
Testing for Giardia can be carried out on blood but, if positive, there is no way of knowing if it is a current or past infection. Antibodies can be present for up to two years after treatment. We therefore recommend the above test on faeces.
Giardia specific antigen may be detected in stool specimens even during an absence of cyst passage or visible signs of trophozoites.
We send you an easy-to-use kit to collect your blood sample.
Post your sample to our lab in the prepaid envelope provided.
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Our tests are not a substitute for seeing your doctor, especially if you are suffering symptoms. Our doctors will interpret your results based on the information you have provided, but will not diagnose, consult or provide any treatment. You will be advised to see your doctor for any necessary follow-up action.
We will send you your Giardia Serology blood test sample collection kit together with the details of a convenient clinic where you can go and have your sample taken.
Your Giardia Serology test includes 1st class postage and packaging for you to send your blood sample directly to our laboratory for analysis. If you live in an area where you cannot rely on the post or you simply want to ensure that your sample arrives at the laboratory the following day, you may wish to send your blood sample guaranteed next day delivery for extra reassurance.
Your blood sample will be analysed at one of our chosen laboratories. You can be assured of fast, accurate results from one of our accredited independent providers of clinical diagnostic tests.
Our medical team will comment on out-of-range blood test results and give you follow-up advice where necessary. If you need it, a PDF copy of your Giardia Serology test results can be downloaded for your doctor.
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