Also known as Montezuma’s Revenge

What is it?
Caused by a very small single-cell organism that lives in the intestines.
Who is susceptible to it?
Dogs, cats, humans, and wild animals.
How does it spread?
Giardia is contracted byswallowing the eggs found in the feces of an infected animal.
Time line from exposure to signs?
Signs begin 24 to 48 hours after exposure.
What are the symptoms?
Generally, it is believed that infection with Giardia is common but disease is rare.  Symptoms includeintermittent or continuous diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, depression, and loss of appetite.
Is there a test for it?
Diagnosis is made from a very fresh fecal specimen.  A surprising number of affected animals are “occult,” that is, that is they are infected but are negative on these tests.  As a result, this parasite is often treated without a confirming diagnosis.
How is it treated?
Giardia is treated with an oral medication given at home.
Cleaning the environment?
Giardia can live several weeks to months outside the host in wet, cold environments. So lawns, parks, kennels, and other areas that may be contaminated with animal feces can be a source of infection for your pet. You should keep your pet away from areas contaminated by the feces of other animals. This is not always easy.  As with other parasites, using sanitary measures to reduce or kill the organisms in the environment helps. Solutions of Lysol, bleach, and quaternary ammonium compounds are effective against Giardia.
Is there a vaccine?
Yes.  The vaccine (Killed) is given by injection and requires two doses 4 weeks apart with yearly boosters.  The vaccine does not prevent infection; rather it reduces the severity and the duration of the disease.  We do not recommend this vaccine.
Risk for humans?
Humans can be infected so special care must be taken to wash hands and utensils.
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