ZocdocAnswersIs giardia contagious?

Question

Is giardia contagious?

If someone has giardia can they give it to someone else?

Answer

Giardiasis is an infection of the small intestine caused by the protozoan parasite Giardia lamblia and is one of the most common causes of waterborne disease in humans in the U.S. Giardia may be found in food, water, soil or on surfaces that have been contaminated by the feces of an animal or human that is infected. Ingesting food or water contaminated from sewage probably causes most infections. It is the most frequent cause of non-bacterial diarrhea. The symptoms of giardiasis range from being asymptomatic (having no symptoms) to having severe chronic (long-lasting or frequently recurring) diarrhea. Primary symptoms include: diarrhea, stomach cramps, upset stomach, nausea, vomiting and low-grade fever. These symptoms can lead to weight loss and dehydration. Giardiasis can infect everyone. It can be very contagious, and everyone is at risk. Even though someone may be asymptomatic when infected with Giardia, they can still act as a carrier for the pathogen and are still capable of infecting others. In extreme cases, giardiasis may be fatal. Giardia is usually cleared from healthy individuals without treatment after about a month. However, immunocompromised individuals are at risk for serious complications so anti-parasitic drugs are available for treatment. I would suggest a visit with a primary care physician for more information, and to answer any additional questions you may have.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.