Monday, July 12, 2010

Giardia - A little intestinal visitor

So my youngest had a little intestinal visitor.  We were doing a serious of random tests to confirm or, hopefully, dismiss certain allergies or problems.  That's when we found our little friend Giardia. 

Oh Giardia, how you hide. How you manage to not be found in random stool tests. Your spontaneous diarrhea is a thing of wonder. 

A gross post you say. Well, if you are going to live or visit Rio de Janeiro, get used to the idea of parasites. It's not something that is even hardly noticed. My 3 year old has been taking anti-parasite medication every 6 months since he was 2. They don't even bother to test after that age, it's so common. And, if you are from many 1st world countries, you don't know that the stool tests don't always find them.

Tricky little bastards.

I think the funniest part of the whole thing was the shock of a friend of mine's doctor girlfriend.  I had finally received the results of my youngster's more basic stool and blood tests. They were not on.  It was the first time I've ever experienced that. My oldest, myself, and my husband are like horses. We can take pretty much anything and still be some pretty fine steeds. 

She was kind enough to offer to look over the results. Keep in mind that in Brazil you go to private testing centers, receive the results, and then take them to your doctor.  Fun and scary at the same time. You get the results with listed norms and think, OMG I have no Eosinophilias!! I'm dying! What are Eosinophilias?

So she got down to the part about parasites. Colonies of Giardia. Lovely.  Her comment? In Scotland they'd treat the water if someone got it.  My husband and I had one hell of a good laugh at that. I don't think they treat the water as is down here!  Of course we drink from a filter. We make ice from a filter. We cook from a filter. I don't even boil tap water. You can. I know many who do but I can't handle it.  I always know when I've had boiled tap water. My tummy lets me know. 

So, how did he get it?  Well, you can get it many different ways but I'm pretty sure it was from drinking bath water. Any time I turned around he'd try to drink some.  From a cup, suck it out of the washcloth (which I brought because I've still yet to find them here), or from his hands.  The little typhoid Mary likes him some bath water. 

We have since taken care of the bath water issue. He lost interest. Not funny anymore, thank goodness.  But note to self, visitors, tourists, and residents alike, if you get the poos think parasite.  That's especially true if it lasts longer than 5 days. 

Disclaimer, Giardia isn't particularly easy or necessarily the most common beast to manage to attack the intestine.  They can be killed by stomach acid.  Our kicker, the little one takes Prilosec and has little to no stomach acid.  Oh those beasts found their perfect target. Too bad his Mommy is a bad ass and had them knocked off. 


  1. Good to know. Looks like I have my work cut out for me since my 2 year old is still quite oral! Especially in the bath.

    So is there a treatment re this parasite?

  2. I have a serious case of the hebbie-jeebies (sp?) right now! I made the mistake of watching one of those science shows about parasites that live in humans and I have never been the same. I'm actually working on a post about my top ten irrational fears and that is on there. Stay tuned! Oh man, you are so much tougher than I am. Good luck!

  3. There's a medicine that's really easy to give. You have to give it to the twice a day for 3 days. The normal parasite medicine is one dose one day and then another one 3 days later, or something like that.

    Hen, you don't have to be afraid of parasites! Just think of them as little friends who like to share your plate of food ;)

  4. btw, I like your irrational fears idea. I may have to do that too if that's ok...

  5. Rach, you can ask the "síndico" to have your building's water analysed. My parents did that once in the building where I lived most my life at. Supposedly, the condominium has to have the building debuggeg and stuff and the water box cleaned every 6/12 months. The water is probably treated, eventually anyone, even adults, will drink some tap water while brushing their teeth etc. As giardia gets inside our bodies through digestion, I find it more probable that Rafa ate some park sand, put some dirty toy in his mouth, those things kids do. Once a doctor friend told me some kids vaccines do not act on the kids body, but it goes into their poo to sterilize the environment, having in mind those communities where there is no treated water, no sewer system, kids play in open air ditches and stuff. Makes sense in a country like ours. But hey, parasites are only parasites, they eat poo for x sake, what harm can it actually do to you? Why fear it? You can even get some weight off, as lombrigas and solitaires, for example, really do share your food...
    But hey, Rach, that's only to show how every day a bit more you can understand why we're cleanliness freaks, right?

  6. I am SO glad you posted this! Every year, my son's school requires that he have a poop parasite test done which I think is a good idea since the kids share a communal bathroom, but I thought it was just to be safe, maybe a hold over from the past. Our Pediatrician in the past has prescribed the anti-parasite medicine as a "precaution" but I never got it because I don't like to give medicine unless it's absoulutely needed. I'm thinking twice now. I hope your little guy is feeling better now. bjs

  7. Thanks for the info Rachel and big kudos to you for tackling this parasite. Must have been a relief to have figured this one out!

  8. Catherine was glad to help ;-) Maybe we can ship you over some treated water....

  9. Eeeek! The Canadoca loves to drink bath water too...