• Huw V. Smith
  • Tim Paget
Part of the Infectious Disease book series (ID)


Two assemblages of the extracellular, intestinal parasite, Giardia, cause diarrhea in humans. Giardia completes its life cycle in individual hosts and its infectious dose can be small (25–100 cysts). Many aspects of its virulence and pathogenicity are poorly understood. The drug of choice is metronidazole. Transmission to humans can occur via any mechanism in which material contaminated with feces containing infectious cysts from infected human beings or nonhuman hosts can be swallowed by a susceptible host. Biotic reservoirs include all potential hosts of human-infectious Giardia species, while abiotic reservoirs include all vehicles that contain sufficient infectious cysts to cause human infection, the most commonly recognized being food and water.

Both foodborne and waterborne outbreaks have been documented. In two out of eight outbreaks, contaminated foodstuffs were implicated as the vehicles of transmission but, in six, foodhandlers were implicated, implying that contamination occurred probably during food preparation and that, until then, the foodstuffs were free of infectious cysts. Increased global sourcing and rapid transport of soft fruit, salad vegetables, and seafood can enhance both the likelihood of cyst contamination and cyst survival. Standardized methods for detecting cysts on foods must be maximized as, unlike pre-enrichment methods that increase organism numbers for prokaryotic pathogens and indicators, there is no method to augment parasite numbers prior to detection. Cyst contamination of food can be on the surface of, or in, the food matrix and products at greatest risk of transmitting infection to man include those that receive no, or minimal, heat treatment after they become contaminated. Temperature elevation (≥64.2°C for 2 min), chlorine dioxide, ozone, UV light, and other treatment processes used in the food industry may be detrimental to cyst survival or lethal, but further research in this important area is required.


Cryptosporidium Oocyst Chlorine Dioxide Giardia Lamblia Giardia Cyst Foodborne Outbreak 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc., Totowa, NJ 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Huw V. Smith
    • 1
  • Tim Paget
    • 2
  1. 1.Scottish Parasite Diagnostic LaboratoryStobhill HospitalGlasgowScotland
  2. 2.Medway School of PharmacyThe Universities of Kent and Greenwich at MedwayKent

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