When food is improperly handled or prepared, it can pick up illness-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Thankfully, parasites are a rare cause of food poisoning, yet they can cause long-lasting symptoms of illness. Two parasites that can be carried in food are giardia and crytopsoridium.
Giardiasis is an illness that causes diarrhea. The tiny protozoans have a tough outer shell which allows them to survive for months outside of a host. They are carried out of the body in the feces, and they can remain in water supplies. From here, when food crops such as fruit and vegetables are watered with giardia-infested liquid, they can become carriers for the parasite. Additionally, if crops are grown in soil that is contaminated with giardia, this too can cause the food to be tainted.
Thankfully, eating fully cooked food can prevent giardiasis. However, if you notice symptoms like diarrhea, gas, greasy and floating stool, abdominal cramps, and nausea, you may be infected with this parasite. Giardia can cause weight loss and dehydration also. The signs typically appear about a week after eating the tainted food, so it can be difficult to exactly pinpoint the source of your illness.
A doctor will usually ask for stool samples to look for signs of giardia if you believe that you are suffering from this parasite. There are some prescription drugs that can help you get over your infection, but otherwise, it can last up to six weeks.
Cryptosporidium is a parasite that also causes a diarrheal disease called cryptosporidiosis, sometimes shortened to crypto. Like giardia, cryptosporidia have protective outer shells that allow them to survive in tough environments. Cryptosporidia can even live through chlorine disinfection, which means that it can survive in drinking water. Once you consume water or eat food that has been prepared with crypto-infected water, the parasite can set up residence in your small intestines. From here, you may notice abdominal pain, malaise, weight loss, and nausea. However, crypto is characterized by the large amounts of watery diarrhea that you may have several times per day.
To diagnose this condition, you will typically have to submit several stool samples to a lab for analysis. If you find out that you do have crypto, there is no one medication that you can take to alleviate your sickness completely. Nonetheless, there are a few drugs that can help, such as nitazoxanide. However, the main thing that you must do is wait it out and keep your immune system healthy so that you can fight off the parasite on your own. This may last up to a month.
Restaurants and grocery stores should provide you with safe, parasite-free food. However, if they fail in this duty to you, you can be left ill for a long period of time. If you or someone you know has suffered from a food-borne parasite, you should consult a product liability attorney about your options. For more information, contact a San Antonio product liability lawyer from Stouwie & Mayo today.