Giardia is a single-cell organism that enters a cat's digestive tract through oral contamination. It is most commonly found in households with multiple cats or catteries. Giardia is extremely difficult to remove from the environment, so cat may be negative when the treatment is over and immediately become reinfected.
Giardia in cats is most commonly treated with a medicine called Flagyl. The medication will be administered in several doses, and the fecal matter of the cat should be tested after the last dose to ensure successful treatment. There is no medication or vaccine to prevent reinfection in cats, and many owners find the cycle very hard to break.
Giardia is spread from cat to cat in a household through food, water and litter boxes. To avoid reinfection, all surface the cats come in contact with should be sanitized regularly. It is very hard to remove giardia from the house or cattery environment, and as a result may require several treatments with medication before the problem is resolved.
When a cat first becomes infected with giardia cysts, there is a one- to two-week incubation period. Once the incubation period is over, the body begins reacting with diarrhea that may be watery. This will progress to a soft stool with a foul odor and is usually accompanied by abdomen pain and weight loss.
Experts are unsure if the giardia that infects a cat is transmittable to humans, but there is a form of giardia that humans can acquire. The safest route is always the best, so be sure to wash your hands with antibacterial soap after petting an infected cat or cleaning litter boxes.
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