What is Giardia ?

grey What is Giardia ?What is Giardia ? Due to its potential for severe, long lasting effects Giardiasis (diarrhoea caused by Giardia) is like a small atomic bomb detonating in your gut. When you say “Giardia” to long term travellers they tremble more than those hyenas in The Lion King after hearing “Mufasa”.

Giardia is a bacterium which can cause symptoms ranging from the relatively mild (similar to travellers diarrhoea) to severe and disabling. It is a sneaky little bugger with a hard shell that allows it to survive long periods outside a host. This shell makes it tolerant to chlorine disinfection. Giardia is found in soil, food or water that has been contaminated by infected people or animals. Risk of infection is managed in the same way as regular travellers diarrhoea

Because it can cause symptoms similar to travelers diarrhoea Giardia can often go undetected, however it is usually more severe. On top of diarrhoea, vomiting, dehydration and the like, distinguishing features include:

  • Foul smelling gas (really, really bad, you’ll know)
  • Greasy floating stools
  • Severe cramping.


If left untreated Giardiasis can lead to intestinal damage, recurring flareups and possible malabsorbtion disorders, so if you suspect you have Giardiasis it is important that proper treatment is started quickly.

The most commonly prescribed antibiotic for Giardia is Metronidazole 200mg to 400mg three times daily for a week. A single dose of 2 grams of Tinidazole (related to Metronidazole) is becoming more popular as it kills the bug in 80% of people and is far easier to remember when on the go. Both of these are drugs that you simply cannot take with alcohol. It is important to not have a drink for at least three days after finishing a course of either medicine to allow the drug to get out of your system. Whaat, “no grog” I hear you scream! Yes, these drugs can cause a severe reaction with alcohol that you really do not want that on top of  your illness.

For more information check out this link:

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