Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

How to prevent giardia.

How to prevent giardia.
beginning of content

Giardia (giardiasis)

Giardia is an infection of the bowel, caused by a parasite called Giardia. It can cause abdominal (tummy) pain and diarrhoea. Giardia infection can cause long-lasting symptoms and serious problems, especially in children.

What is giardia?

Giardia is an infection of the bowel and gut, particularly the small intestine. It is also known as giardiasis. It is one of the most common diseases worldwide that’s carried by water.

What causes giardia?

Giardia is caused when someone is infected with the parasite Giardia duodenalis, also known as Giardia lamblia or Giardia intestinalis.

You can catch the parasite if you come into contact with contaminated:

  • water
  • food
  • faeces (poo)
  • people or animals.

The parasite must enter by mouth (usually by drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated food) to cause infection. Food and water can get contaminated if you do not wash your hands after going to the toilet, after changing nappies or after handling infected animals.

Giardia symptoms

Some people have giardia without having any symptoms at all, but they can still spread the parasite.

Some people have gastroenteritis, with symptoms like:

  • stomach cramps or bloating
  • excessive gas or flatulence (wind)
  • diarrhoea, which may be watery and smelly.

Some people become unable to tolerate dairy products for a few weeks.

Symptoms may last for months (especially if left untreated), and can return. If you think you might have giardia see your doctor.

Giardia treatment

People with diarrhoea, especially babies and young children, need to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.

Prescription drugs, including antibiotics, may be used to treat giardia.

Giardia prevention

To help prevent spreading giardia:

  • keep infected people from going to childcare, preschool, school, the swimming pool or work until there has been no diarrhoea for 24 hours
  • wash hands properly, especially after going to the toilet and before handling food
  • boil water suspected of contamination before drinking.

Treating infected people reduces spread of the parasite.

Last reviewed: December 2015

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 32 results

Giardia infection (giardiasis)

Giardia infection causes an illness called giardiasis.

Read more on WA Health website

Parenting and Child Health - Health Topics - Giardia

Giardiasis ('gee-ar-dye-a-sis') is an infection of the bowel caused by a parasite called Giardia.Giardia infection is one of the most common illnesses caught from water worldwide.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Giardiasis

Giardiasis is an infection mainly of the small intestine caused by the parasite Giardia lamblia. Giardiasis has been reported in humans and in a variety of animals. To prevent infection wash hands thoroughly and don't drink untreated water.

Read more on NSW Health website

Giardiasis | Public Health

Read more on Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services website

Sexually transmitted infections

Sexually transmitted infections are infections or diseases that are passed on during unprotected sex with an infected partner.

Read more on WA Health website

Pneumococcal infection - including symptoms, treatment and prevention :: SA Health

Pneumococcal infection - pneumococcal pneumonia is a serious lung infection which can be fatal, especially in the elderly or infants

Read more on SA Health website

Chlamydia (genital) - including symptoms, treatment and prevention :: SA Health

Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection in Australia and for men and women infection may lead to infertility if untreated

Read more on SA Health website

Parvovirus B19 infection (fifth disease, slapped cheek, slapped face, erythema infectiosum) - including symptoms, treatment and prevention :: SA Health

Parvovirus B19 infection (fifth disease, slapped cheek, slapped face, erythema infectiosum) is a mild illness but may be transmitted to the foetus

Read more on SA Health website

Cold sores (herpes simplex type 1) - including symptoms, treatment and prevention :: SA Health

Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1) causes cold sores on the face or lips - it is spread by skin or mucous membrane contact with infected saliva

Read more on SA Health website

Viral meningitis - including symptoms, treatment and prevention :: SA Health

Viral meningitis is an infection of the covering of the spinal cord and brain caused by a variety of viruses, most often gastroenteritis.

Read more on SA Health website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback