If you live in a developed country, like the United States, it can be easy to assume that resources like your drinking water are always safe and well-managed. But the truth is that water contamination can affect anyone, anywhere. And not only can impure water have an unpleasant taste or smell — it can also carry dangerous bacteria and parasites. For example, one serious parasitic infection water can cause is giardiasis, also known as beaver fever.
Giardia is a microscopic parasite that lives in warm-blooded animals and humans, and when it gets into our drinking water supply it can cause severe gastrointestinal problems. In this article, we will explore what giardiasis is, how you can catch it, its signs and symptoms, how to treat an infection, ways to prevent beaver fever from occurring in your home — as well as how to protect the water supplies around us.
What Is Beaver Fever?
Beaver fever, also known as giardiasis or giardia infection, is an intestinal infection caused by the parasite Giardia lamblia. It can cause a variety of gastrointestinal issues, including some severe symptoms, which we’ll discuss later in the article. It’s most commonly found in water sources that have been contaminated with animal waste, such as rivers, streams, and lakes. It is also possible for this parasite to infiltrate drinking water supplies if they are not properly filtered.
Why Is It Called Beaver Fever?
The name “beaver fever” originates from a known fact that beavers are a common source of giardiasis infections due to their poor hygiene habits and their ability to contaminate large bodies of water with their droppings. However, Giardia parasites don’t have to specifically come from beavers to cause this infection. In reality, giardiasis can stem from a number of sources.
How Do You Catch Giardiasis?
You can catch giardiasis by drinking or coming into contact with water or food that has been contaminated with the Giardia parasite. This can include drinking from streams, lakes, or rivers, eating raw vegetables and fruit that have been grown in contaminated soil, swimming in contaminated pools, and even drinking tap water that hasn’t been filtered properly. It is also possible to catch Giardia through contact with infected surfaces, including pet waste or food that has been handled by someone who is infected.
Signs and Symptoms of Giardiasis
When someone contracts giardiasis, they may suffer from debilitating digestive issues. This is because the Giardia parasites feed off of the nutrients in our digestive systems, causing inflammation and other symptoms. The most common signs of beaver fever include:
- abdominal pain
In some cases, giardiasis may also cause dehydration due to frequent watery stools. As such, it’s important to drink plenty of liquids while combatting a Giardia infection.
Some people and animals who are carrying the Giardia parasite may be asymptomatic, meaning they show no signs of infection. However, they can still spread the parasite to others.
Treating a Giardia Infection
Treatment for giardiasis typically involves taking an antibiotic called metronidazole (Flagyl). Other medications, such as nitazoxanide (Alinia), are available as well. When battling giardisis, it is important to finish your entire course of medication, even if the symptoms subside earlier. Failing to complete your prescribed antibiotics can leave some parasites behind, risking a recurrence of giardiasis after the fact.
Ways to Prevent Beaver Fever
The best way to prevent beaver fever is to avoid drinking water or eating food that may have been contaminated with Giardia parasites. This means avoiding swimming in lakes, streams, and rivers that may have human or animal waste present, avoiding uncooked vegetables and fruits grown in infected soil, ensuring your tap water has been filtered properly, and washing your hands often with clean water and soap.
If your home is serviced by a municipal water supply, your tap water should have been filtered and processed to remove harmful bacteria and parasites. However, this process isn’t always perfect. What’s more, it’s possible for clean water to pick up new contaminants before reaching your home. This may happen due to old, leaky water mains, groundwater leaching, or problems with your own home’s plumbing.
If your home relies on well water, it’s even more important to be vigilant against possible contamination. Make sure your well is maintained and serviced regularly, as well as protected from any potential sources of contamination, such as septic tanks.
How to Protect the Water in Your Home
Whether your home gets its H2O from a well or a local water authority, it’s crucial to ensure its purity. Water filtration can help you protect your family from dangerous parasites like Giardia, as well as bacteria, chemicals, and heavy metals like lead and arsenic.
While faucet filters or filtered jugs can certainly help you purify drinking water in one area at a time, the most reliable way to get cleaner water is to install a whole-home water filtration system. These systems are designed to reduce or eliminate a wide range of contaminants through every tap and water-using appliance in your household, from your kitchen sink and your shower head to your washing machine and garden hose. Water contamination can affect your health in a variety of ways, not just when consumed, so it’s important to protect every water source your family uses.
Get Cleaner H2O with The Science of Water
At The Science of Water, we understand that clean, fresh water is a critical priority to protect your health and your family. That’s why we offer free testing and consultations to guarantee the safety of your water supply.
Our team at The Science of Water assesses and installs water filtration systems to meet your household’s unique needs. Using filtration technology backed by NASA and the EPA, our advanced water systems purify your home’s tap water to the highest standard. Whatever you’re looking for in a water filtration system, we can help you enjoy safer, clearer, and more delicious water through every faucet and appliance in your home.
Don’t wait to find out about contamination or parasites like Giardia when it’s already too late. Proactively protect your household with tap water testing and filtration for pure, delicious water that can be relied on. For more information about The Science of Water or to book your free water test, just get in touch with our team today!