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Giardiasis

Category: Illness or disabilities

Type

Involuntary

Introduction and description

 

Giardiasis is a zoonotic parasitic disease caused by the flagellate protozoan Giardia lamblia (also sometimes called Giardia intestinalis and Giardia duodenalis).

The giardia organism inhabits the digestive tract of a wide variety of domestic and wild animal species, as well as humans. It is the most common pathogenic parasitic infection in humans worldwide; in 2013, there were about 280 million people worldwide with symptomatic giardiasis.

Symptoms

Symptoms include weakness in the body, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, loose or watery stools, stomach cramps, upset stomach, projectile vomiting (uncommon), bloating, excessive gas, and burping (often sulphurous). Symptoms typically develop 9–15 days after exposure, but may occur as early as one day.

The symptoms are caused by Giardia organisms infecting the cells of the duodenum and jejunum of the small intestine and blocking nutrient absorption. Most people are asymptomatic; only about a third of infected people exhibit symptoms. If the infection is not treated, these symptoms may last for weeks.  IBS may be caused by the giardia organism.

 

Giardiasis can also result in lactose intolerance, which, while usually temporary, may become permanent.  It can also result in vitamin B12 deficiency as a result of the problems caused within the intestinal absorption system.  It can also result in general nutritional deficiency as it causes poorer rates of carbohydrate and nutrient absorption and it can lead to dehydration as water absorption is also disrupted.

Now a bit of science to show how much damage they also do to the intestine.  As I hope you can see from the description, they completely disrupt the intestinal microflora.  As this microflora is also part of our immune system defences, the implication is that all this damage has effectively left us open to any number of other pathogens.  Unless removed very quickly they may cause far more very serious illness than we realise

Wikipedia

Giardia are flagellated protozoans that cause decreased expression of brush border enzymes, morphological changes to the microvillus, and programmed cell death of small intestinal epithelial cells. ……The attachment of trophozoites causes villus flattening and inhibition of enzymes that break down disaccharide sugars in the intestines.

Ultimately, the community of microorganisms that lives in the intestine may overgrow and may be the cause of further symptoms…..      The alteration of the villi leads to an inability of nutrient and water absorption from the intestine, ….. In the case of asymptomatic giardiasis, there can be malabsorption with or without histological changes to the small intestine.

The species Giardia intestinalis uses enzymes that break down proteins to attack the villi of the brush border and appears to increase crypt cell proliferation and crypt length of crypt cells existing on the sides of the villi. On an immunological level, activated host T lymphocytes attack endothelial cells that have been injured in order to remove the cell. This occurs after the disruption of proteins that connect brush border endothelial cells to one another. The result is heavily increased intestinal permeability.

There appears to be a further increase in programmed cell death by Giardia intestinalis, which further damages the intestinal barrier and increases permeability. There is significant upregulation of the programmed cell death cascade by the parasite, and, furthermore, substantial downregulation of the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2 and upregulation of the proapoptotic protein Bax. These connections suggest a role of caspase-dependent apoptosis in the pathogenesis of giardiasis.

Giardia protects its own growth by reducing the formation of the gas nitric oxide by consuming all local arginine, which is the amino acid necessary to make nitric oxide. Arginine starvation is known to be a cause of programmed cell death, and local removal is a strong apoptotic agent.


Treatment

 

The body’s main defence mechanism to get rid of this parasite is diarrhoea, as such the one thing that should never be attempted is to stop the diarrhoea. 

Plenty of warm water to top up the fluid intake and stop dehydration, plus neutral foods like plain boiled rice or mashed potato [no butter no milk] to help the intestines move the invader out within the  goo provided by the carbohydrates.  Other forms of neutral carbohydrate starchy food may also help like tapioca pudding made with water.

Add arginine containing foods to help boost depleted reserves.

There are more suggestions in the observations.

Prevention

Parasites - Giardia, Prevention & Control - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC.
those at greatest risk are travelers to countries where giardiasis is common, people in child care settings, those who are in close contact with someone who has the disease, people who swallow contaminated drinking water, backpackers or campers who drink untreated water from lakes or rivers, people who have contact with animals who have the disease, and men who have sex with men.

 

 

Giardiasis is transmitted via the faecal-oral route with the ingestion of cysts.

Primary routes are personal contact and contaminated water and food.

The cysts can stay infectious for up to three months in cold water.

Thus the obvious preventative measures are to do with hygiene, washing hands, boiling and filtering drinking water, being careful about what you eat and where you eat etc.

Access to clean drinking water solves a lot of problems.

 

 

Related observations