Giardia is one of the most common water contaminants despite the word being unfamiliar to many.
Carried in cyst-form it enters waterways and, through a variety of ways, can cause an unpleasant stomach illness when ingested.
How does giardia get into drinking water?
Giardia parasites infect the intestines of both humans and animals. It enters the water system through infected faeces either through entering the soil, agricultural water run-off, infected sewerage or by people with the bug going swimming.
What are the health risks?
Often people can become infected by giardia (which is also known as giardia lamblia) and display no symptoms, however, it can also cause a debilitating stomach illness.
Those infected by the parasite usually develop giardiasis, which causes diarrhoea, nausea, fatigue, bloating and weight loss. How seriously people are affected by the symptoms varies but giardiasis can lead to chronic fatigue and dehydration if not treated.
The disease often also reoccurs causing bouts of illness that can be months apart – and can last for years. While the illness can be treated with antibiotics this is dependent on getting the disease correctly identified through a medical laboratory test.
It is believed that many sufferers are unaware that infection with giardia could be responsible for their symptoms, which have instead been attributed to irritable bowel syndrome or chronic fatigue syndrome.
How is giardia in drinking water treated?
Giardia is highly resistant to chlorine and chloramine, which are standard disinfectants used to treat municipal drinking water supplies.
Instead their removal relies on filtration processes put in place at water processing plants.
As the particles are relatively large this is a successful treatment, although also using a drinking water filter at home will offer you an added layer of protection and reassurance.
Protection is the best way to guard against the unknown – don’t fall victim to giardia; take charge of what is in your drinking water by using a Doulton water filter.