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Giardia
 
Giardiasis is an intestinal disease of dogs, cats, and other animals that can be contagious to people. It is caused by a protozoan called Giardia lambia. Infection occurs when a dog or cat ingests giardial cysts in food, feces, soil, and most importantly, contaminated water.

The most common sign of giardiasis is diarrhea. It may be chronic or intermittent and may contain mucus or blood. Other symptoms include weight loss, listlessness, intestinal gas, or loss of appetite. Some animals may carry giardia, show no clinical signs, but be infective to people and other animals.

A diagnosis of giardiasis is made by examining a fresh fecal sample under a microscope. Because shedding is intermittent, repeated microscopic examinations of multiple stools may be required to find the cysts. Recent studies have shown 30-60% of dogs and cats are infected.

Giardia is the most common intestinal parasite in people. Good personal hygiene, i.e. handwashing, should be practiced in homes where giardiasis has been diagnosed in a pet.

Our local water supply can contain giardia because chlorination does not kill it. It is easily spread by wildlife (squirrels, raccoons, etc.). We recommend treating all animals yearly for giardiasis, even if no clinical symptoms are noted. Treatment with Panacur (fenbendazole) for five days is the method of choice. This will treat for other common intestinal parasites as well.
 

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Copyright (c) 2003. Dr. Robert L. Rogers. All rights reserved.

The Better Business Bureau. Education Foundation
Torch Awards for Excellence in Business Ethics
Presented to Dr. Bob Rogers
for Public Education about New Vaccination Recommendations