Diarrhea Home > Prevent Giardia

The best ways to prevent Giardia infection include practicing good hygiene, avoiding food and water that might be contaminated, and avoiding fecal exposure during sexual activity. If it is difficult to avoid potentially contaminated water, you can heat it to boiling or use a recommended filter. In order to prevent Giardia, it is very important to keep individual cases from spreading.

How to Prevent Giardia: An Overview

There are several things a person can do to prevent a Giardia infection. Some of these include:
 
  • Practicing good hygiene
  • Avoiding water that might be contaminated
  • Avoiding food that might be contaminated
  • Avoiding fecal exposure during sexual activity.
     
Practice Good Hygiene
Good hygiene practices that can prevent a Giardia infection include:
 
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water
  • Wash hands after using the toilet and before handling or eating food (especially for persons with diarrhea)
  • Wash hands after every diaper change, especially if you work with diaper-aged children, even if you are wearing gloves
  • Protect others by not swimming if you are experiencing diarrhea (essential for children in diapers).
     
Avoid Contaminated Water
Some ways to avoid water that might be contaminated with Giardia include:
 
  • Do not swallow recreational water
  • Do not drink untreated water from shallow wells, lakes, rivers, springs, ponds, and streams
  • Do not drink untreated water during community-wide outbreaks of disease caused by contaminated drinking water
  • Do not use untreated ice or drinking water when traveling in countries where the water supply might be unsafe.
     
In the United States, nationally distributed brands of bottled or canned carbonated soft drinks are safe to drink. Commercially packaged noncarbonated soft drinks and fruit juices that do not require refrigeration until after they are opened (those that are stored unrefrigerated on grocery shelves) also are safe.
 
If you are unable to avoid using or drinking water that might be contaminated, you can make the water safe to drink by doing one of the following:
 
  • Heat the water to a rolling boil for at least 1 minute.
-- Or --
  • Use a filter that has an absolute pore size of at least 1 micron or one that has been NSF-rated for "cyst removal."
     
If you cannot heat the water to a rolling boil or use a recommended filter, try chemically treating the water by chlorination or iodination. Using chemicals may be less effective than boiling or filtering, because the amount of chemical required to make the water safe is highly dependent on the temperature, pH, and cloudiness of the water.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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