Giardia: Parasites make life difficult for animals and humansRegion. Acute diarrhea with vomiting or chronic recurrent diarrhea with weight loss, mucousy feces and bloating in pets should not be taken lightly at all. They can be the first warning sign that your beloved pet has contracted a parasite.
Giardia, as the parasites are called, often affects young dogs and cats. The disease is difficult to control. Easily transmissible- even to humans. In about 70 percent of cases, kittens are affected. Triggers can be, in addition to the transmission from animal to animal, also stress or a change of diet.
"The parasites are sometimes difficult to detect, but routine diagnostics should be part of every veterinary practice by now.", says the Hornburg veterinarian Dr. Mareike Stelzmann. In order to be able to prove a disease with the parasite, rapid tests are carried out in their practice. For a more detailed examination, the samples are also examined in an external laboratory. For this purpose, the pet owner must provide a fecal sample of his four-legged friend.
Hygiene is paramount
The litter box should be kept scrupulously clean. Photo: Anke Donner
The parasite is extremely persistent and must be treated with medication, in most cases antibiotics. In addition, hygiene is the top priority. Litter trays, bowls, blankets, pillows and toys should be cleaned regularly – several times a day if possible – and intensively with boiling water. Feces should be collected from the litter box several times a day. Be disposed of in a sealed bag. And as strange as it may sound, the four-legged friend's bottom should be wiped after going to the toilet, so that the parasites are not picked up again when cleaning. "Environmental hygiene is very important, because the cysts can persist in the environment for a long time and re-infections can occur again and again. Additionally, it is important to regenerate the damaged intestinal lining with special dietary food and 'good gut bacteria'", so Mareike Stelzmann.
Who has the feeling that the problem with the Giardien occurs only now particularly frequently and aggressively, it is said that the parasite is by no means new. "In the past, the parasite was not diagnosed as often and was therefore able to spread easily", according to the veterinarian.
Giardia can be transmitted to humans
Giardia are not only dangerous for the animal. The parasites can also be transmitted to humans. Prof. Dr. Kinan Rifai, chief physician for internal medicine at the Wolfenbuttel Municipal Hospital, explains how the parasite affects the human organism and how it is combated.
"In humans, lamblia can multiply in the small intestine but also persist as cysts outside the body. An inflammatory reaction can occur in the small intestine, as well as disruption of digestion by affecting digestive enzymes", according to Rifai.
The infection typically occurs through contaminated water or food, but also from person to person. In Germany, such an infection in humans is rather uncommon – about 3.500 cases reported annually according to the Robert Koch Institute. However, it is amed that there is a high number of unreported cases. Worldwide, however, it probably affects up to 10 percent of the population. About 50 percent of the infections in Germany were acquired abroad. "In case of infection with Giardia in Germany, there is a duty to report to the public health department", says the chief physician.
Symptoms and treatment
After an incubation period of about a week, symptoms typically begin with a feeling of prere in the right upper abdomen and mild nausea. The digestive disorders can cause diarrhea and flatulence. "The stool can be bulky and fatty. Prolonged infestation can lead to weight loss and, in children, failure to thrive. Treatment is with parasite-active antibiotics such as metronidazole, which are usually well tolerated.", explains Prof. Dr. Kinan Rifai.