If you read yesterday’s post, you’ll recall that Hissy Spitty and Squeaky refer to Alice and Lulu, two of the hospital’s adoptable kittens, who have Giardia. For weeks, they’ve had intermittent soft stool. We changed their diet, with no improvement, and so, have found the cause to lie in Giardia.
– Scientific Classification –
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Excavata
- Phylum: Metamonada
- Order: Diplomonadida
- Family: Hexamitidae
- Genus: Giardia
- Species: Giardia agilis, Giardia ardeae, Giardia lamblia, Giardia muris, Giardia microti, Giardia psittaci
The parasite Giardia is the agent most frequently identified in outbreaks of water-borne disease. It is a zoonotic disease as humans can contract it through ingesting contaminated material. Daycare centers have been a region of transmission. The cysts expelled in feces are what transmit the disease. They are elliptical in shape and have 4 nuclei.
Signs of giardiasis occur about a week after infection. They include:
- diarrhea (and subsequent dehydration)
- excess gas
- stomach or abdominal cramps
- upset stomach
To diagnose Giardiasis, trophozoites or cysts must be seen in fecal smears or fecal flotation. This may be difficult as cysts are shed intermittently. Generally, 3 fecal samples are collected over a period of a week to 10 days. The disease can be treated with tinidazole or metronidazole. The kittens are being administered the latter I believe.
On a side note, in the course where I first learned about Giardia, the doctor giving the guest lecture had a giant tattoo of this old man-looking parasite on his upper arm. Science lovers are weird…slash awesome…
- Wikipedia – Giardia
- Introductory Parasitology notes – taught by Dr. Zajac at Virginia Tech
- Parasite Terminology (trushin.wordpress.com)
- Study of microscopic parasite gives UT researchers blueprint for future robots (knoxnews.com)