Zoonosis: Giardiasis – the facts of infectious disease

I’m trying to find out if birds can spread Giardia (aka Beaver Fever) and after reading multiple websites it does. Most state that birds more likely get the bacteria from humans which is why most state the bacteria is found in pet birds but there are some websites stating it is also found in wild animals. So far this is all I’ve been able to find. So until I find an actual study that provides me with more information I’m going to assume that all birds have the ability to spread this disease. Click here for the full article or read an excerpt below.

 

What is Giardiasis?

Giardiasis is a type of gastroenteritis (gastro) caused by a tiny parasite, Giardia lambia which lives in the bowel.

Giardiasis can affect anyone, however, it is more common in infants, young children and adults aged from 20 to 40 years.

What are the symptoms of Giardiasis?

The most common symptoms of giardiasis are diarrhoea, nausea and stomach cramps. However, in some cases there may be no symptoms at all. After infection, it usually takes between seven and ten days before you become ill. To trace the cause of the illness, it is necessary to know where you were and what you ate and drank in the fortnight before you became ill.

Illness may last from a few days to weeks.

Where are Giardia found?

Giardia lambia parasites are found in humans and in wild, farm and pet animals.

How does Giardiasis spread?

Giardiasis occurs when Giardia parasites are taken in by mouth and the most common way this happens is by person-to-person spread.

People with giardiasis have Giardia lambia parasites in their faeces. If these people do not wash their hands properly after going to the toilet, then contaminated hands can spread the parasites to surfaces and objects which will be touched by other people. Contaminated hands can also spread the parasites to food which may be eaten by other people.

Hands can also become contaminated with parasites when a person changes the nappy of an infant with giardiasis.

People and animals can carry Giardia in the faeces without having any symptoms. These people or animals can still pass the disease on to others.

Pets, farm animals and contaminated drinking water can also spread Giardia parasites.

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I think I may have Giardiasis – what should I do?

If you have symptoms of giardiasis, report them to your doctor immediately. This will ensure that you receive proper treatment and advice and that steps are taken to reduce the spread of the disease.

Can I still work?

Food handlers, child care workers and health care workers with giardiasis must not work until symptoms have stopped.

Children must not attend child care centres, kindergartens or school until symptoms have stopped.

How can I stop spreading it to my family?

In your household the risk of spreading giardiasis can be reduced. It is very important that people with giardiasis or gastroenteritis do not prepare or handle food which will be eaten by other people and that no one shares their towel or face washer.

How can I avoid getting Giardiasis?

By following the guidelines below, everyone can do something to avoid getting giardiasis.

Careful hand washing

Everyone should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and hot running water for at least ten seconds:

  • before preparing food
  • before eating
  • after going to the toilet or changing nappies
  • after smoking
  • after using a tissue or handkerchief
  • after working in the garden
  • after playing with pets

Food handlers should use disposable paper towels or an air dryer to dry their hands. Cloth towels are not recommended as they get dirty quickly and can spread germs from one person to another.

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Safe food storage and handling

  • Thoroughly cook all raw foods.
  • Thoroughly wash raw vegetables before eating.
  • Reheat food until the internal temperature of the food reaches at least 75 degrees C.

Note for microwave oven users

Remember that part of the microwave cooking process, includes standing time. If a microwave oven is used, read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and observe these standing times to ensure the food is completely cooked before it is eaten.

Household cleaning

Bathrooms and toilets must be cleaned often to avoid the spread of infections. Pay particular attention to toilet seats and handles, taps and nappy change tables.

Sandpits can become contaminated with animal faeces and urine. Rake the sand frequently and remove any animal faeces. Cover the area when not in use.

Water from untreated sources

Untreated water that comes directly from lakes or rivers may be contaminated with faeces from people or animals. Boil water from these sources before drinking it.

Child care centres

Children are particularly susceptible to giardiasis. Nappy changing and children’s lack of proper hygiene makes the transmission of this disease in child care settings particularly high. It is important that thorough hand washing and cleaning procedures are being followed in the child care centre to control the spread of these parasites.

 

 

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