Beaver Fever!



  1. The audio is mono. (single channel) please don't be sad. The anchors are laughing because 'the Plague' used to be called beaver fever, beaver fever can also.
  2. Giardia in dogs is not fun! It's safe to say that having a sick dog or cat is one of the hardest things that a pet parent has to face. Sometimes the worst thing is just the not knowing of what your dog or cat has contracted, and how you can make them feel better.
  3. Giardiasis (also called “beaver fever”) is a parasitic intestinal infection caused by the microbe Giardia lamblia. It causes symptoms like diarrhea, stomach pains, nausea and sometimes dehydration.

What is giardiasis?

Dog Beaver Fever. Beaver Fever is a disease that dogs and people can get by drinking water from a contaminated source, such as a pond, a lake, or even a puddle. The disease is actually called giardiasis, and it is caused by a microscopic single-celled parasite called Giardia, that can infect the intestines of people and animals.

Giardiasis (gee-are-dye-uh-sis) is a diarrheal disease caused by microscopic parasites called Giardia. These parasites can live in the intestines of many mammals, including humans. Although many species of Giardia are found worldwide, only Giardia lamblia (known also as G. intestinalis, G. duodenalis) causes infection in humans.

Giardiasis is a common cause of waterborne disease in humans. Giardiasis is sometimes called 'beaver fever' after an outbreak in which hikers at Banff National Park became ill from drinking stream water contaminated with Giardia from beavers.

How common is giardiasis?

In Ontario, between 2003 and 2009, there was an average of 12 confirmed cases of giardiasis reported per 100,000 persons each year.1

What are the symptoms of giardiasis?

Giardia infection may causea variety of intestinal symptoms, including :

  • diarrhea
  • bloating, gas or flatulence
  • greasy stools that tend to float
  • stomach or abdominal cramps
  • upset stomach or nausea
  • fatigue, and
  • weight loss

Symptoms of giardiasisusually begin seven to 10 days after exposure, but it can also be as little as three days or as long as 25 days. The symptoms typically last two to six weeks, but may occasionally last longer.

Prolonged infection with Giardia can lead to complications, such as arthritis or damage to the cells which line the intestines.

Persons infected with Giardia may not have any symptoms. These asymptomatic individuals can still pass the disease on to others.


If you have any signs and symptoms of illness, and you have exposure to possible sources of Giardia parasite, contact your physician.

How is giardiasis spread?

Giardia forms spore-or egg-like cells called cysts, which can survive outside the body for long periods of time. The cysts are a resting or dormant stage that helps the organism survive in unfavorable environmental conditions.


These cysts are released with the bowel movements of infected humans or animals. Giardiasis is spread when people accidentally ingest the parasite or its cyst. It takes only one to 10 cysts to cause infection. Approximately one million cysts could fit under a fingernail.

You can become infected by :

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  • ingesting contaminated drinking or recreational water
  • touching your mouth with contaminated hands,
  • putting something in your mouth that has come into contact with the droppings of infected animals or the stool of infected humans,
  • eating raw or undercooked food that is contaminated,
  • inadequately washing hands before preparing food, before eating, and after toileting or diapering, or
  • exposure to feces of an infected individual through sexual contact.

How is giardiasis diagnosed and treated?

Giardiasis is usually diagnosed by examination of stool samples. Patients may be asked to submit multiple stool samples because detection of Giardia can be difficult.

Several anti-parasitic medications are available to treat giardiasis. Your health care practitioner will decide if and what medication is needed for you. Persons with diarrhea should generally drink lots of liquids to avoid dehydration.

If you think you have giardiasis you should see your doctor for testing, advice and treatment.

How can you prevent giardiasis?

The most important preventative measure is good hygiene.

Practice good hand hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water :

  • after using the toilet
  • after changing diapers
  • after assisting others with the toilet
  • after contact with animals
  • after working in the garden, and
  • before and after handling food

Avoid swallowing water while swimming in lakes, rivers or pools.

Avoid drinking water from shallow wells, rivers, lakes or streams. Only drink water that you know is uncontaminated. If you are not sure, treat the water yourself, for example, by boiling for at least five minutes.

Peel raw vegetables and fruits before eating. Use uncontaminated water to wash fruits and vegetables.

Giardiasis has been associated with camping and travelling. Campers and travellers should be aware if giardiasis is common in the area they will be visiting. For more information, consult a travel medicine clinic to assess personal risk and appropriate preventive measures.

What causes giardiasis outbreaks?

Poor hand hygiene practices have been associated with outbreaks of giardiasis in daycare centers and institutions. Giardiasisoutbreaks have also been associated with consumption of contaminated drinking and recreational water.


  1. Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, integrated Public Health Information System (iPHIS) database, extracted April 2010
  2. Heymann. D.L. 'Control of Communicable Diseases Manual'. 19th Edition. 2008. American Public Health Association: Washington D.C.

This fact sheet provides basic information only. It must not take the place of medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always talk to a health care professional about any health concerns you have, and before you make any changes to your diet, lifestyle or treatment.

The Facts

Giardiasis is an intestinal infection caused by a microscopic, single-celled parasite known as Giardia lamblia. A parasite is an organism that lives on or inside another organism called the host. Typically found in lakes, streams, or ponds that have been contaminated by human, muskrat, dog, or beaver feces, giardiasis is also known as 'beaver fever.'

Giardia lamblia is one of the most common human parasitic infections in Canada. Higher numbers of infections are seen in the late summer months and even a few deaths have been reported.

Travellers to regions of Africa, Asia, and Latin America where clean water supplies are low are at increased risk of contracting the infection.


Some healthy people do not get sick from Giardia lamblia; however, they can still pass the infection on to others. Children, the elderly, and people with long-term illnesses may be especially prone to contracting the illness, as the risk of transmission is higher in daycare centres, chronic care facilities, and seniors' residences.

Beaver Fever Guide


The parasite that causes giardiasis lives in the intestines of infected humans and animals. It enters the soil, water, food, or other surfaces after bowel movements. The most frequent method of infection is by drinking contaminated water. However, people may also become infected through hand-to-mouth transmission. This involves eating contaminated food or touching contaminated surfaces and unknowingly swallowing the parasite.

The parasites produce cysts (resistant forms of the parasite), which are swallowed. The cysts then reproduce in the intestines causing the signs and symptoms of giardiasis. The parasites then form new cysts that are passed in the stool, continuing the life cycle of the parasite. Ingestion of as little as 10 cysts is enough to cause illness.

Symptoms and Complications

The signs and symptoms of giardiasis usually occur within 7 to 14 days of exposure to the parasite, although symptoms may appear as early as 3 days or as late as 25 days.

Beaver Fever 1974

They frequently include diarrhea, pale greasy stools, stomach cramps, gas, nausea, vomiting, bloating, weight loss, and weakness. Some people may experience explosive, foul smelling diarrhea.

Fever, rash, and joint pain are less common. The symptoms usually last for 1 to 2 weeks, but may last as long as 6 weeks.

Individuals who have other illnesses may experience longer-lasting symptoms resulting in complications such as prolonged diarrhea leading to dehydration, further weight loss, and malnutrition.

Other complications include arthritis and damage to the cells that line the intestine.


Making the Diagnosis

Since the signs and symptoms of giardiasis are similar to many other illnesses, your doctor will ask you for a stool sample. The presence or absence of cysts (the resistant form of the parasite found in stool) or parasite antigen helps determine whether or not you have the condition. This test may be repeated several times over several days to confirm the presence of the parasite.

Treatment and Prevention

In some cases, giardiasis goes away on its own in about one month. Other people need antibiotics (e.g., metronidazole*) to shorten the duration of the infection and to kill the parasite.

Because the disease can spread quickly, your doctor may suggest that the whole family be treated at the same time. Your doctor may also suggest that you take your medication for a longer time or change your medication depending on the severity of your illness. It is very important that you let your doctor know if you are pregnant because some medications used to treat this condition can harm the fetus.

Finally, it is very important that you drink enough water and electrolyte-rich drinks (solutions containing sugar and salts) because your body will be losing water due to diarrhea. Signs of dehydration are extreme tiredness; dry skin, mouth, and tongue; sunken eyes; and very little production of urine or tears.

Children are at a higher risk of dehydration than adults due to their small body size, so parents or caregivers should watch for signs of dehydration and ensure that the child drinks plenty of rehydrating solution. Oral rehydration solutions, which are available at pharmacies as liquids or powder packets to mix with water, are an excellent way to keep a child hydrated. If you are mixing electrolyte powder with water, make sure the water is clean to avoid reinfection.

There are several effective ways to avoid getting or spreading this infection. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Do not drink or brush your teeth and wash food or dishes with untreated water from streams, rivers, or lakes, even if they look sparkling clean. Make sure you boil water from these sources for 1 to 2 minutes (or 3 minutes if you are at a high altitude) before use.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after eating, preparing food, changing diapers, and using the toilet.
  • Do not send a child who is infected and cannot control his or her bowel movements to daycare or school.
  • Avoid swallowing water when swimming in public pools or lakes. Chlorine commonly used in swimming pools will not kill the cysts.
  • Try to eat well-cooked hot foods and always peel raw vegetables and fruit.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/condition/getcondition/Giardiasis