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What Is Giardia and How To Treat It

What Giardia Is & How To Treat It

Reality Survival

Welcome to Reality Survival. Today, we’re going to talk about the Beaver Fever. Don’t worry – it’s not what you think. I got this information from Mayo Clinic about Giardia infection. I know this is extremely exciting information, but you should listen to it because Giardia is a primary way people could get sick in an SHTF situation.

Suppose you have to get your water from groundwater instead of treated city water. You could very potentially get Giardia, which is pretty nasty stuff. I’ll get right into this. I’ve got some notes that I’ve made from the website, which I’ll link below so you can take a look at it and do additional research on your own. I’m not giving medical advice. I’m just giving you an overview of what Giardia is, how it can affect you, and some ways you can treat it and keep from getting it.

Giardia infection is an intestinal infection marked by stomach cramps, bloating, nausea, and bouts of watery diarrhea. Some people like to say it’s explosive diarrhea when you get a bad case. A microscopic parasite causes the infection, especially in poor sanitation and unsafe water. Giardia infection, or Giardius, is one of the most common causes of waterborne disease in the United States.

The parasites are found in backcountry streams and lakes, public water supplies, swimming pools, whirlpools, spas, and wells. Giardia infection can be spread through food and person-to-person contact. Giardia infections usually clear up within a few weeks, but you may have intestinal problems long after the parasites are gone. Several drugs are effective against Giardia parasites, but not everyone responds to them. Prevention is the best approach.


Some people with Giardia infection never develop signs or symptoms, but they still carry the parasite and can spread it to others through their stool. Signs and symptoms usually appear one to three weeks after exposure for those who get sick and may include watery, sometimes foul-smelling diarrhea, which may alternate with soft, greasy stools, fatigue, stomach cramps and bloating, gas, nausea, and weight loss. Signs and symptoms of Giardia infection may last two to six weeks, but in some people, they may last longer or reoccur.

When to See a Doctor

Call your doctor if you have loose stools, stomach cramping and bloating, nausea lasting more than a week, or if you become dehydrated. Tell your doctor if you are at risk of Giardia infection, have a child in child care, recently traveled to an area where the infection is common, or swallowed water from a lake or stream. In an SHTF situation, you’re going to need to be able to treat this yourself, and we’re going to talk about that more here in a minute. Giardia causes Giardoparasites to live in the intestines of people and animals. Beavers are a common carrier, which is why it’s sometimes called Beaver Fever.

Before the microscopic parasites are passed in a stool, they become encased within hard shells called cysts, which allow them to survive outside the intestines for months. Once inside a host, the cysts can dissolve, and parasites are released. Infection occurs when you accidentally swallow the parasite cysts. This can come from swallowing unsafe water, eating infected food, or person-to-person contact. Swallowing contaminated water is the most common way to become infected with Giardia.

Where is Giardia Found?

Giardia parasites are found in lakes, ponds, rivers, streams worldwide, and public water supplies. They’re mostly talking about public water supplies in bad areas where the water is not so good, not usually in developed nations, wells, cisterns, swimming pools, water parks, and spas. Ground and surface water can become infected with Giardia from agricultural runoff, wastewater discharge, or animal feces. Children in diapers and people with diarrhea may accidentally contaminate pools or spas.

Eating Contaminated Food

Giardia parasites can be spread through food, either because food handlers with Giardia infection don’t wash their hands thoroughly or because raw produce is irrigated or washed with unsafe, contaminated water. Because cooking food kills Giardia, food is a less common source of infection than water, especially in industrialized countries.

Person-to-Person Contact

You can get infected with Giardia if your hands become dirty with feces. Parents changing a child’s diapers are especially at risk, as are childcare workers and children in childcare centers, where outbreaks are increasingly common. Giardia can also spread through anal sex.

Risk Factors

Giardia parasite is a very common intestinal parasite. Although anyone can pick up the Giardia parasite, some people are especially at risk. Giardia infection is far more common in children than adults. Children are more likely to contact feces, especially if they wear diapers, are toilet training, or spend time in a childcare center. People who live or work with small children are at a higher risk of developing Giardia infection. People without access to safe drinking water are also at increased risk. Giardia infection is rampant whenever sanitation is inadequate, or water isn’t safe to drink. If you travel to places where Giardia infection is common, you’re at risk, especially if you aren’t careful about what you eat and drink. The risk is greatest in rural or wilderness areas. The Mayo Clinic also has a category for people who have anal sex or oral-anal sex. Not using a condom or other protection increases the risk of Giardia infection and sexually transmitted infections.


Complications of Giardia infection are rarely fatal in industrialized countries, but it can cause lingering symptoms and serious complications, especially in infants and children. The most common complications include dehydration, often a result of severe diarrhea. Dehydration occurs when the body doesn’t have enough water to perform its normal functions.

Failure to Thrive

Chronic diarrhea from Giardia infection can lead to malnutrition and harm children’s physical and mental impairment.

Lactose Intolerance

Many people with Giardia infection develop lactose intolerance, the inability to digest milk sugar properly. The problem may persist long after the infection has cleared.


No drug or vaccine can prevent Giardia infection. Still, common-sense precautions can go a long way toward reducing the chances that you’ll become infected or spread the infection to others.

Wash Your Hands

First, wash your hands. It’s kind of like a basic thing. Just wash your hands. Everybody should wash their hands. This is the simplest and best way to prevent most kinds of infection. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after using the toilet or changing diapers before eating or preparing food. When soap and water aren’t available, you can use alcohol-based sanitizers. However, alcohol-based sanitizers aren’t effective in destroying the cyst form of Giardia that survives in the environment.

Purify Wilderness Water

This one is probably most applicable in our situation. Avoid drinking uncontaminated or untreated water from shallow wells, lakes, rivers, springs, ponds, and streams unless you filter or pasteurize it for at least ten minutes at 158 deg. Bring the water to a rolling boil for 1-3 minutes to be super safe. Ten minutes is not necessary for boiling.

Wash Produce

Wash any raw fruits and vegetables with safe, uncontaminated water. Peel the fruit before eating it, and avoid eating raw fruits or vegetables. If traveling in countries where they may have come in contact with unsafe water, keep your mouth closed. Try not to swallow water when swimming in pools, lakes, and streams. Use bottled water. When traveling to parts of the world where the water supply is likely to be unsafe, drink and brush your teeth with the bottled water that you open yourself. Don’t use ice when traveling.

Practice Safe Sex

If you engage in anal sex, use a condom every time. Avoid oral-anal sex unless you’re fully protected.


Your doctor is likely to test a stool sample for accuracy to diagnose Giardia infection. You may be asked to submit several stool samples collected over a period of days. The samples are then examined in a lab for the presence of parasites. Stool tests may also monitor the effectiveness of any treatment you receive. Children and adults who have Giardia infection without symptoms usually don’t need treatment unless they’re likely to spread the parasites. Many people who do have parasites often get better on their own in a few weeks.

When signs and symptoms are severe or persistent, doctors usually treat Giardia infection with medications such as metronidazole, the most commonly used antibiotic for Giardia infection. Side effects may include nausea and a metallic taste in the mouth. Don’t drink alcohol while taking this medication. There’s also tinidazole/Tindamax and nyosoxanide/Alinia. There are no consistently recommended medications for Giardia infection in pregnancy because of the drug’s potentially harmful effects on the fetus. If your symptoms are mild, your doctor may recommend delaying treatment until after the first trimester or longer. If treatment is necessary, discuss the best available treatment with your doctor.

Jase Medical

If we’re in a grid down situation, you might not have access to a doctor, and it might not be easy to go to a hospital for treatment. However, metronidazole is one of the five medications in the emergency antibiotic pack of medicines offered by Jase Medical. I’m an affiliate with Jase Medical. They have a pack of five different antibiotics that you can get prescribed from an actual medical doctor and a real pharmacy in Utah. Their emergency antibiotic pack comes with the following medications: Amoxicillin- Clavulanate, Azithromycin, Ciprofloxacin, Doxycycline, and Metronidazole.

Some of the infections that are treated by these antibiotics include anthrax, plague, and tularemia from bioterrorism incidents, bite wounds, cellulitis diverticulitis, intra abdominal infections, tooth infections, ear infections, pneumonia, sinusitis, strep throat, urinary tract infection, traveler’s diarrhea, cholera, osteomyelitis, prostatitis, Salmonella, Lyme disease, malaria, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, chlamydia, bacterial vaginosis, and pelvic inflammatory disease.

How Long Can You Keep Antibiotics?

Most antibiotics will come with a manufacturer’s expiration date of two-three years from the manufacturer date. Your medications should be stored in airtight containers in a cool, dry environment under proper storage conditions to maximize shelf life. Antibiotic expiration dates can be extended for an additional five years. Studies have shown that these medications retain greater than 90% of their potency after 20 years when stored in a dry, cool environment.

Water Filters

You also need to make sure that you can treat your water to remove Giardia and other waterborne pathogens. You need to think about a few different things if you’re in the field. I highly recommend getting the Katadyn Pocket Water Filter (or equivalent), which I’ll link below. It’s the best water filter on the market, in my opinion. I recommend the Alexa Pure Pro water filter if you’re at home during an SHTF situation. It’s the best one on the market given everything it takes out and its durability. I’ll include a link for a discount below. I recommend getting the Nu Aqua seven-stage reverse osmosis water filter system if you have a well. I’ll put a link below. I’ve done a video on it in the past because I have it in my house.

These are all excellent ways to make sure that you are safe from waterborne illness. They’re important to know, and I would recommend looking at these items and learning more about this topic so that if you’re ever in a situation where somebody gets sick, you know how to treat them.

More Information

Doctor Bones and Nurse Amy also have a great book and more information at doomandbloom.net. They talk about dosages for different things and stuff like that. I own a copy of it, and I recommend you do as well. The most important thing to note is that Mayo Clinic’s information didn’t make Giardia sound like a terrible illness because the article assumes that you are in a place where you can get medical treatment. If you’re in an SHTF situation, Giardia can be a very serious situation because you might not be able to get medical treatment. Without treatment, the two to six-week infection period can be hell, especially if you’re already having a hard time taking in enough water or doing the things you’re supposed to do. It can be a real nightmare, especially if you’re in an environment with limited toilet paper.

Think about prevention, and make sure that you have a good, solid plan for water filtration so that your water is safe to drink. The filters I recommended are high-quality, excellent filters, and you can’t go wrong with any of them. 

Anyway, thank you for checking out this post. If you’re new, subscribe to my YouTube channel and click the bell icon to get notified each time we upload a new video. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below. I’ll do my best to answer them. As always, don’t forget to live the six P’s: Proper Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. Stay safe!

Source Material: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-c..

Jase Medical: https://bit.ly/3sF6cAG

Alexapure Pro Water Filter: https://amzn.to/3JCwSsj
Nu Aqua Reverse Osmosis Water Purifier: https://bit.ly/3ncs8lB

MSR Miniworks Water Filter (Equivalent to Katadyn Pocket): https://amzn.to/3KVoBl3 

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