What is Giardiasis?
Giardiasis is the infection that comes from the Giardia parasite. It is a diarrheal infection and it is passed through feces. Since it is a parasite, it survives inside of a host, at the host’s expense. This parasite lives inside the host’s intestines until it is passed through their stool. Even outside of the body, the parasite can survive several weeks or even months. This is why it can spread so easily.
How Giardia Gets Into Your Drinking Water
The waste of someone infected with Giardiasis can enter drinking water sources and contaminate the water. It can enter the water through sewage overflows, if sewage systems are not working properly, polluted runoff from stormwater, and agricultural runoff. The parasite may not be filtered properly and, as a result, find its way into your drinking water. Private wells are at a greater risk of being infected with Giardia since they do not have any kind of filtering system. They are especially at risk after a flood, if they are shallow, have been dug or bored, or have been submerged by floodwater for long periods of time.
Symptoms of Giardiasis
Symptoms of the infection do not usually appear right away but may begin to show up 1-3 weeks after a person is infected. The symptoms typically last 2-6 weeks. Medication can help to reduce the duration of the symptoms, and some people who contract the infection do not show any symptoms at all.
Some symptoms of giardiasis include:
- Greasy stools that tend to float
- Stomach or abdominal cramps
- Upset stomach or nausea/vomiting
- Dehydration (loss of fluids)
Some other, less common symptoms, include itchy skin, hives, and swelling of the eyes and joints.
How to Know if Your Water is Infected With Giardia
The best way to know if your water is infected with Giardia is to have it tested. A water test can tell exactly what is in your water, other than just Giardia. Once you know what is in your water you will be able to determine the next steps in getting water that is the cleanest and highest quality it can be.
How to Remove It From Your Water
There are a few different filter options to remove Giardia from your water. Filters that are reverse osmosis, one with an absolute pore size of 1 micron or smaller, tested and certified by NSF Standard 53 for cyst removal, or tested and certified by NSF Standard 53 for cyst reduction, can be used to remove the parasite from your water. If you do not want to invest in a filter, you can simply boil the water and store it in the fridge, sealed in a container with a tight lid.