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Giardiasis

The name of the disease that I have chosen is Giardiasis. The nick name of Giardiasis is beaver fever. Giardiasis is caused by a microscopic parasite called Giardia lamblia. Giardia lamblia is also referred to as Giardia intestinalis or Giardia duodenalis because it infects the intestines and the duodenum. Erlandsen and Ernest state that giardia parasites live in the digestive tract of human beings as well as in the digestive tracts of domestic animals such as dogs, cats, and cattle. Giardia parasites also live in the digestive tracts of wild animals such as the beavers and bears as well as in rodents such as rats. According to Abdi, giardia parasites also cause gastroenteritis in human beings. Gastroenteritis is a medical situation which is characterized by inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract leading to diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pains and cramps.

Infections

Giardiasis is common among young children, people who hike, campers, swimmers in public pools and homosexual males. Giardiasis usually affects people in clusters in outbreaks, for example, Harrington, Krupnick, and Spofford assert that giardiasis is responsible for most of the water-borne outbreaks of diarrhea in the United States of America, Europe, and Australia. People who are in close contacts with infected people or animals are also at higher risk of contacting giardiasis.

Prevalence of Giardiasis

Giardiasis is prevalent in tropical areas and developing countries rather than in developed countries. Jong and Sanford estimate the prevalence rates for giardiasis to be between two and seven percent in developed countries and between twenty and thirty percent in most developing countries. Moreover, Long, Pickering and Prober approximate that nearly two million cases of giardiasis infections are reported worldwide every year.

Reservoirs of Giardiasis

The main reservoir hosts of giardiasis include human beings, domestic animals such as dogs, cats, chicken, and cattle as well as wild animals such as beavers, ungulates, and bears. Wild birds are also reservoir hosts.

Transmission

Giardiasis is transmitted through swallowing of the cysts of the protozoan parasite Giardia lamblia. After the cysts have been swallowed, they pass through the stomach to the small intestines where they hatch into trophozoites. The trophozoites are then passed out in stools. Some of the trophozoites die while others remain infective. The infective trophozoites then form cysts which are swallowed by another uninfected person. Maguire and Keystone summarize this cycle as the fecal-oral route because it involves consumption of contaminated consumables.

Symptoms and Signs

Giardiasis infections are mostly asymptomatic. However, some patients often experience loss of appetite, diarrhea that last between seven and ten days, loose or watery stools, abdominal pains and stomach cramps, nausea, bloating and excessive gas in the stomach.Infections by the protozoan giardia may also lead to hematuria, a condition in which the urine contains stains of blood. Patients of giardiasis may also vomit, lose weight, and suffer from fatigue. Maguire and Keystone affirm that symptoms of giardiasis may range from mild diarrhea with stomach cramps and flatulence to prolonged diarrhea and malnutrition. According to Jong and Sanford, the symptoms of giardiasis usually appear within the first week of infection. The symptoms usually result from blocking of nutrient absorption in the intestines after the protozoan giardia attaches itself on the walls of the small intestine.

Complications and Syndromes

One of the major complications of giardiasis is lactose intolerance in the body. As a result, an individual is not able to absorb milk sugar in the intestines. Gastrointestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease and biliary tract dysfunction are caused by giardiasis. In addition, medical research studies have found that dermatologic manifestations such as arthritis, pruritus and urticaria are also caused by giardiasis. Giardiasis may cause irritable bowel syndrome in some patients. Moreover, prolonged infection by giardiasis may lead to dehydration due to severe diarrhea and vomiting and deficiency of vitamin B12 in the body due to reduce nutrient absorption in the gastrointestinal tract.

Disinfection, Prevention and Control (Breaking the Chain of Transmission)

The transmission of giardiasis can be prevented or controlled by observing strict personal hygiene and cleanliness, for example, washing hands with soap before meals and after visiting toilets. Drinking water should also be boiled and properly treated. Hikers, campers and swimmers are cautioned against drinking water from rivers, lakes and swimming pools. People who are infected with giardiasis should be separated from public and social places in order to reduce risks of infecting others, for example, children suffering from giardiasis should be removed from daycare facilities to prevent infection of healthy children. People should avoid recreational water such as swimming pools that are contaminated, avoid eating raw or uncooked foods and drinks that may be contaminated. Fruits must be thoroughly washed before being eaten. In addition, proper disposal of human and animal wastes and reduced contacts with infected persons and animals are also ways of preventing and controlling giardiasis. According to Addis, Juranek, and Spencer, young children and travelers to tropical areas may receive immunization to protect them against infection by giardiasis.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The diagnosis of giardiasis includes microscopic examination of fresh stools to detect the presence of cysts or trophozoites in the feces. Serological techniques may also be used during diagnosis. Although treatment of giardiasis is not always necessary because the disease usually resolves by itself, patients with persistent symptoms are given metronidazole, albendazole and tinidazole as medications.

Code: Sample20

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