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Old 09-22-2010, 11:46 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Anyone have experience with Giardia??

At the beginning of September I brought home a new puppy (Riley). He started having diarrhea on Saturday and we just found out yesterday thru fecal tests that he's positive for the parasite Giardia. Now begins my paranoia.

My kitties are strictly indoors. The one thing that made me less lenient on getting a dog was the fact that they have to potty and exercise outside. I hate the thought of fleas, ticks and possibly worms in my home and infecting my cats. Now we get the dog, and come to find he's got one of the most contagious and hard to get rid of parasite out there.

I'm less concerned for my husband and me getting infected, but I'm absolutely terrified that my kitties will. When I think of my house all I can picture are these writhing cysts of parasite larvae (think of the cocoons Moguai's make when they get wet in the Gremlins movies). I know that I'm probably being over dramatic, but I can't help it. It's like a nightmare coming true for me.

So, please... Does ANYONE have experience with this? What did you do to prevent re-infestation? He's got full run of the downstairs when we are home, crated when aren't. He's allowed on the couches. In his crate he has a doggy bed and some toys for company while we are away. Do I need to vacuum and disinfect everything daily? Should I chuck his toys and get new ones? My house is too small to keep him separated from the cats; is there anything I can do to minimize exposure? I've read that the cyst can get stuck on the infected animals hair follicles... so every time I pet my pup I cringe now... it's horrible. I also read that it can take cats 5-16 days after infection to show signs; now every time I clean the box I'm terrified of finding the tell-tale smelly, soft, orangy poo (or worse, diarrhea).

I need some moral support and advice to keep my sanity while he's being medicated (5 days on Panacur, 10 days on metronidazole).
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Old 09-22-2010, 06:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I am going to be more in listening mode, like you, since my Hershey was just diagnosed Monday with an "imbalance of internal organisms", probably Giardia. He's taking 10 days of Metronidazole, and Little Hersh, the 5-1/2 month old kitten I've had for almost two months, is getting a half dose. They both showed a little blood in the stool and "cow patty" type stools, no other symptoms. We'll see what others say, but my vet was not yet overly concerned, said many cats have it but show no symptoms at all. My cats are strictly indoor, but I understand the organism can be harbored and be dormant for 2-3 years, so either of them might have had it when I adopted them in the last six months. Interestingly, since my other two cats have shown no symptoms, the vet feels nothing is needed for them at this stage.

Googling Giardia brings up a few god articles. Among other things, one is supposed to be very diligent about both keeping the litterbox clean and disinfecting it, to try to help prevent its spread. Vacuuming is also supposed to help. My vet said stress, which suppresses the immune system, can help bring it on if it's present. I had been away for two three-day weekends, and Hershey, despite seeming to be pretty independent, gets diarrhea when I go away, probably due to being upset. I wonder if your Riley might have had it and the stress of adjusting to his new environment allowed it to surface.
Keeping a pet that goes outdoors from fecal matter and from dirty sources of water is supposed to help minimize the risk of infection from giardia.

That exhausts my little knowledge, as it's new to me, too. Let's hope the medication, plus keeping a clean house and litterbox, does the trick.
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Old 09-22-2010, 07:47 PM   #3 (permalink)
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My kitty had giardia. She was treated with Metronidazole and the problem was solved. No one else caught it, but I was careful to remove her #2 from the litter box ASAP
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Old 09-23-2010, 03:43 AM   #4 (permalink)
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My little sister got giardia from a cat. she was really ill for a month so i would watch out for it.
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Old 09-23-2010, 08:47 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh 91 View Post
My little sister got giardia from a cat. she was really ill for a month so i would watch out for it.
I've read a little about it too, and thought it couldn't spread from cats to humans.
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Old 09-23-2010, 02:36 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks for responding, everyone. NRD - sorry to hear you're going through it too!

My vet was not concerned either; in fact I had called after I got their message about the fecal test results and probably sounded like an idiot. But, they basically told me that all I need to really do is make sure the doo is picked up immediately and wash my hands a lot. They also suggested that I could use baby wipes to wipe his rear and paws when he's coming in to the house. That really didn't sound like enough to me, since reading up about Giardia on the internet makes it seem as though this parasite is the next superbug.

I did get some insight from another person on a different forum who went through an infestation 5x with the same dog when it was a puppy. She told me that she just vacuumed a lot, and every time he went poop she would pick it up and spray it with a bleach solution (she used 50/50!). She said the grass died but it grew back. Her other dog, two cats and two birds never caught it.

So far he's been on the meds for 2.5 days, and he's doing a lot better. The cats are not showing any signs (though I know I'm not in the clear, by any means). I'm also thinking that because my kitties are older (5 and 7) and in good health, they likely have a strong enough immune system to fight off an infestation should they happen to ingest some of the cysts. I hope so, anyway. In the mean time, I've been making sure to keep their boxes super clean. That with the daily vacuuming, surface disinfecting and cleaning Riley when he comes inside is about the best I can do, I guess. If I don't see them start showing signs of being infected, then when I take Riley's sample in for the follow up test I'll bring on of the girls' samples too to test and make sure.

From what I've read there isn't a lot known about the spread of Giardia between animals and humans. Some groups think it's possible, others do not. Some groups even think that dogs cannot pass it to cats. I think it's best to err on the side of caution. Also, giardia is the parasite in water that makes you have to boil it before you can drink it - when humans get infected by them it's known as "Montezuma's Revenge" or "Traveler's Diarrhea". I have actually gotten sick from Giardia before, about two years ago on my honeymoon to Mexico. I was sick for about a week when we came home and finally admitted that I would need to see the doctor for meds because I just wasn't getting any better. I don't remember what she prescribed, but I was on it for about a week and after a couple days I was already better. I know it's a common thing, I just don't want it in my house to further infect my furbabies!!
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Old 09-23-2010, 03:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I have a friend who got it in Nicaragua, and she said you just go to a pharmacy and ask for the meds. It's so common you don't even have to be seen by a doctor to get treated for it.

I've also heard that one fecal test isn't enough, even if it comes back negative. A follow-up test in about another month is called for, because apparently the cysts can be there but not show up on the first test.
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Old 09-30-2010, 11:04 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Well, cleaned the box tonight and discovered at least one of my cats has diarrhea. My heart dropped. I'm bringing in a fecal sample for them tomorrow after work, and praying that it's NOT giardia.

I've been very diligent with Riley - doo gets picked up immediately and sprayed with a 50/50 bleach solution. I throw it out immediately and use anitbacterial gel until I get home where I can wash my hands. I wipe his butt and paws with wipes every time we come in from outside. The only thing I haven't really done is vacuumed every day, but I've been doing it about every other.

*Please, please be a fluke and not the parasite!!*
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Old 10-01-2010, 11:53 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Hope for everyone's sake it's something temporary and easily treatable. I just finished the 10-day doses of Metronidazole for Hersh and Little Hersh, and for the moment, everyone is now just fine again.
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Old 10-01-2010, 02:30 PM   #10 (permalink)
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NRD, that is good news! How did you handle cleaning when they were being treated? Did you do anything special with the rest of the house or just focus on keeping the boxes clean?
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