Giardia

HedgeMom

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Giardia is an intestinal parasite that causes diarrhea and anorexia. In humans it can cause stomach cramps and pain, in addition to diarrhea. The feces will be larger than normal, greasy or shiny looking and will smell. It is readily transmitted between humans and pets.

Most giardia is contracted through contaminated drinking water, food and contact with an infected animal. Symptoms take 7 to 14 days after exposure to show. Veterinary treatment is mandatory. You cannot treat this without prescription medications.

Flagyl is the treatment of choice. It's safe in chinchillas and very effective. You may need to repeat the course, if the infection is severe. Valbazin and Panacur are also prescribed. Both work well.

Supportive care at home is a must. Monitor water intake to prevent dehydration. Encourage drinking by hanging a second water bottle with a few ounces of room temperature herbal mint and chamomile tea (just herbal, not anything with caffeine). Replace daily.

Unsweetened shredded wheat can be offered a few times a day to help keep the fiber up and control diarrhea. Acidophilus (high potency) can be sprinkled on a shreddie once a day to help.

In case of severe diarrhea, a teaspoon of unflavored canned pumpkin can be given daily in small servings to help bind things up.

In order to prevent the spread of the disease, other than quarantine (which should be automatic), sanitation is paramount. Clean everything the animal comes in contact with. Wash fabrics in hot water with bleach and boil anything plastic or metal that can't be washed.

Wooden items should be disposed of or sanded down far enough to get past anything that might have soaked in.

Recovery can take weeks. Be prepared to provide supportive care such as hand feedings. Monitor weight for several weeks afterward to ensure that the animal is doing well.
 

Sesame

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I heard that a 3-step water filter could help eliminate some of the giardia found in tap water too. Is this correct?
 

Solarsis

trained by expert chins
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HM, have you heard of vets treating giardia with Albendozol or Fenbendazol instead of Flagyl? We had a case with our girls a few years ago that would not go away with Flagyl treatment. Our vet recommended a course of Fenbendazol combined with a very small amount of tylan powder in the water. Things cleared up within days and the girls had no adverse side effects.

I also found this on the CAchins website:

If your animal has giardia, then ask for Albendozol or Fenbendazol , NOT Flagyl. Flagyl is still the only accepted treatment for giardia, but unfortunately it kills no more than 50% of the parasite and has been implicated in liver failure in chinchillas. Albendozol, however, usually kills the parasite after 3 days of treatment and does not seem to have bad side effects due to the fact that it is not absorbed into the blood stream. It does sometimes cause a little loss of appetite for a couple of days, but this usually passes.
Just wondering if you have any insight on this.
 

equus_peduus

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Flagyl is the treatment of choice. It's safe in chinchillas and very effective. You may need to repeat the course, if the infection is severe. Valbazin and Panacur are also prescribed. Both work well.
HM, have you heard of vets treating giardia with Albendozol or Fenbendazol instead of Flagyl?
Valbazin is a brand name for albendazole.
Panacur is a brand name for fenbendazole.
Flagyl is a brand name for metronidazole.

In theory, any will work. None work well in all cases. Some cases of giardia, regardless of species of animal affected, need to have more than one drug thrown at them. Re-infection of the animal is also very common. It's a frustrating disease to treat, and some think that it's not possible to completely clear it - just reduce the numbers to trivial levels.
 

Solarsis

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ah thanks for the info on names. I wasn't aware of the brand names. Our vet compounded the meds for us and always referred to it as fenbendazol.
 

Siylvat

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I heard that a 3-step water filter could help eliminate some of the giardia found in tap water too. Is this correct?
I have a Pur Stage 3 water filter for my chins. The box says it filters for giardia.
 

Spoof

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I heard that a 3-step water filter could help eliminate some of the giardia found in tap water too. Is this correct?
That, a reverse osmosis system, or boiling the water.
 
C

Carol~Anne

Guest
That, a reverse osmosis system, or boiling the water.
I recall reading that using boiled water for chinchillas was okay in a temporary situation but it shouldn't be used all the time b/c... I can't remember the b/c why, but I know there was a reason. Maybe someone else knows.
 

Inca-bink

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Boiled water is not ideal for a number of reasons - first, depending on what it is boiled in, it may pick up metal ions from the pot. This is OK in short-term, but can be bad in the long term. Secondly, boiling does not "sterilize" as such - it does reduce bacterial load and other bio contaminants you might be concerned about, but it doesn't get rid of everything. It also won't remove other things you don't want your animals drinking, like trace amounts of lead (of concern especially if you have old pipes) or other contaminants.

Distilled water is also not a great idea because it can actually upset your animal's internal electrolyte balance. You may be feeding a balanced diet, but your pets depends on many sources to get the minerals and other nutrients they need. Limiting those sources is just asking for problems. Although there have been great strides in understanding the nutritional needs of many animals, we don't completely understand our own requirements, much less those of under-studied animals like chinchillas. There are other reasons, but that is the main reason providing distilled water is not a good idea.

What does work is a filtration system. Whether it is a Brita, Pur, or other faucet filter, you need to make sure that your filter is certified to do what it says. Look on the side of the box for the blue NSF seal, and then check the specifications. NSF is currently the leading independent certifier of drinking water filtration systems, and runs exhaustive tests to be sure filters are removing what they say they do. Look for removal of cysts (like giardia and cryptosporidium), lead, and anything else that you might be worried about having in your water.

Remember that it is more likely that your chinchilla will be exposed to giardia through other kinds of contact rather than water. Giardia is a large cyst, and is unlikely to make it into your drinking water, although outbreaks have been known in localized settings. Cryptosporidium is much smaller, and much much harder to remove, and with its similar symptoms, it can be difficult to effectively diagnose. It is good to protect yourself and your pets by using a filter, but remember to take simple precautions, like washing your hands and keeping your shoes in a closet where your chinchillas can't chew on them. You never know what you've stepped in...

Hope this helps!
Steph
 
Last edited:
S

Sugarmama

Guest
Admins, could this be stickied so this info is readily available, and doesn't get lost in old threads?
 

Spoof

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Just be careful with the filters, if you put warm or hot water in, it can release the bad stuff it has been trapping. In order to keep them working as they claim you need to replace them at the date specified - max. If your water really sucks, you could be replacing them every two to three weeks.

I mention reverse osmosis because it was used by a rancher in canada on his herd for 27 years. He had very healthy animals his entire career. Though there have been no studies done on chinchillas, we do know that they don't drink out of wells. :D You are right though, for people and regular pets, completely distilled water is not good.

Boiling water kills the bacteria that is going to mess you up, like giardia. If you're to the point you need to boil it, likely you have no other options. :)
If you're really desperate you can throw bleach or iodine in it and let it sit out for a bit. You'll want to look up the quantities, don't remember them offhand.

Giardia is a large cyst, and is unlikely to make it into your drinking water,
Very likely in the south, particularly areas that flood. Texas is one of the worst states for it. Every time a hurricane comes through they recommend testing your water, because it has a high chance of introducing it and other nasty critters.

They just told me to throw a couple of gallons of bleach down my well when I moved in. I'm not entirely thrilled with that advise, going to have the water tested next week to see what's in it.
 

Inca-bink

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Just be careful with the filters, if you put warm or hot water in, it can release the bad stuff it has been trapping.
Too true... always read the box! Putting hot water through may also damage the filter so it will not work per specs.

I've heard people using reverse osmosis, especially for large herds, and I can't speak to its pros and cons - it is too expensive for me, so I haven't researched it much. I'm just a pet owner, and I find that a faucet filter works great for me and my situation. Everyone will have to collect all the knowledge they can and make decisions based on that and their own situations. Maybe someone who uses it can weigh in on RO.

As for bleaching your water, it will work to get rid of Giardia, but you have to get above the right concentration (I don't have the numbers on hand, 1-3 mg/L is what is added to most municipal drinking water systems, and that isn't enough. Surface cleaning is usually above the "shock concentration" of 50 mg/L, so that is easier to be sure of). If you are using it for drinking, you have to let it sit long enough to volitalize (like overnight - you don't want to be feeding your chinnies too much bleach!). I don't blame you for being wary of just "throwing a couple gallons down the well" just because how would you ever know you've adequately cholorinated the water? Definitely find out what is down there - then you can treat it properly and rest easy!

Very likely in the south, particularly areas that flood. Texas is one of the worst states for it. Every time a hurricane comes through they recommend testing your water, because it has a high chance of introducing it and other nasty critters.
I've heard this before - where I am, we don't have the same frequency or duration of these problems that you see, but we do occasionally have "boil water alerts" during or after flooding, big storms/tornados, or when there is some sort of maitenence or error that causes a break in the line or negitive pressure that could allow contamination, and in that case I always boil my water or use bottled until the all clear. But just not in day-to-day life...
 

Randy-Chin

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I have used the system below for over 3 years now. My chins get this water and always have done good.

Aquasana Drinking Water System
Voted Best Buy 2003-2007 By Consumers Digest Magazine.

Benefits:
• Removes Chlorine, Lead, Mercury, VOC's, THM's, MTBE and 100 other common tap water contaminants!
• Sub-Micron Filtration
• Filter out 99.99% of Chryptospordium and Giardia (chlorine resistant parasites)
• Leaves in the natural trace minerals
• Improves taste and smell
• Lasts up to 500 gallons or 6 months
• Removes Turbidity
• Compact design (7"Wx9"Hx4"D)-Installs in seconds
• 60 Day Satisfaction Guarantee!
• Only 9 cents a Gallon for Better than bottled water Quality!
• Made in the USA!
 

Inca-bink

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Hi,

I can't find the filtration system you mentioned on the NSF certified site - either I'm missing it, or it is not certified by the independant lab at NSF to do what it says it does.

There are a couple reasons that I am strongly in favor of looking for NSF certification on drinking water treatment systems. The first is that they are a truly independant company - with the way the law works, just because a lab certifies it meets certain standards does not ensure the independence of that lab, nor does it indicate the rigor of the tests used. The standards and tests adhered to by the NSF labs are very strict, and those standards have been adopted as the level of quality required by governments, companies, and independant agencies and associations across the world. Often, when a company cannot pass the rigorous tests performed at NSF, they will contract with a less vigorous lab that will certify them as having met the standards when they previously couldn't (with or without product changes in the meantime).

So, if you are concerned about the quality of water that you and your pets are drinking, it is my opinion that the more assurances I can get as to my chosen product's effectiveness, the better. I guess I'd like to trust companies and believe that they are looking out for my welfare, but I'm too much of a cynic to trust them. So I check up on them in the only way I can - by looking for good reviews, good results, and an independant certification to back it up. If you are interested in checking the certification of any product, or you just want more information on NSF & its certification process, I've added the link to their website at the end of this post.

http://www.nsf.org/certified/dwtu/
 

Spoof

Kung Fu Chinny!
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where I am, we don't have the same frequency or duration of these problems that you see, but we do occasionally have "boil water alerts" during or after flooding, big storms/tornados
A little off topic, but this gave me a good laugh. I wish I could afford to buy a house closer to my folks, but the economy up there is tits. Was born and lived in Snohomish until 2001, then moved to Pullman for college, LA to work. There are only two tornados on record on the westside, both in Vancouver. I know one was last year, and I think the other in the 70's, you're right about frequency. We had seven tornados in town last hurricane season. They are sweet looking.

Had awesome well water in Snohomish, and to this day my parents have never had a boil alert. It may happen in Lynwood, there are rumors about what lives in Lynwood.... :D I know the city of Everett's water hasn't had one since my grandma has been there, their water regulations are strict and tested daily.

Louisiana is a whole different ball park. There are few enforced regulations on anything, and the water is terrible. You have a water well, then 600ft further down an oil well. Nobody tests anything. They recommend it, but you have to collect your own water and there is only one place in the state that takes it. It was a shock moving here, lol.
 

Inca-bink

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Lol, that's pretty cool that you know the area I'm currently in! I actually meant the midwest, where I grew up and have lived most of my life... I really have very little real knowledge of Snohomish, except that I've lived here for 2 months total! I'm glad they don't get tornados and things much, though! I won't miss them. I don't think I'll miss the snow either, although people keep telling me I will... :p This year we got about foot of snow in December, so I'm not missing it yet!
 
S

Saide

Guest
A note on Giardia.

Giardia is very deadly in humans, let alone pets. Giardia will not come from your tap water unless your local water plant is especially neglectfull. Giardia starts where an animal has died or deficated into water. Make sure you chin, or any pet for that matter isn't drinking water from streems of pond, and most importantly the floor of they're cage. A bowl that has feces in it is just as dangerous. If your waterbottle drips when you put it in whipe up the water immiediately. Chins may not drink the water on the floor but they will walk in it and they use their hand to eat, thus transference.

The cyst form of giadia is the least dangerous, you can see it and easily remove it, but again you won't see that from tap, at least in the US, water only in nature carries it. The dagnerous in the bacterial form that is invisible to the naked eye. Do not get me wrong Giaria is VERY DANGEROUS!!!

Giardia lives in only temperate water. You can kill it by either boiling your water or freezing it. As a camper who intends on drinking from lakes or streams bring a specified filtration system or iodine tablets. And Yes after hurricanes and Flooding all water is suspect. People and animals die is the water, let not even mention the amount o fecal contamination. *shudders* Don't drink it, don't let your pets drink it. I'd buy bottled water for months afterwards.

On the Chins:

From what I have read about people are getting a little frantic and abit rediculous. it comes down to basic care.

- Replace your chin's water daily!!!
- Wipe any drippings from the water bottle
- NO BOWLS of water! EVER!
- Keep the area around the water bottle clear od fecal matter
- Wash your hands between every animal you touch and their food and yours!

Follow those rules and you and your chin and all pets will be fine.

I am not trying to discredit anything written above. There is some great information up there. The brands will be especially helpfull in the event of contamination. And they are right Giardia passes between people and pats very easily. Make sure that cats and dogs aren't getting contaminated during outside play. You touch them you touch your chin.. Oh the badness.

I personally give all my pets filtered water, but thats because I drink filtered water. I've know chins that were eleven years old and had tap water all their lives. My only thought on Tap water versus Filtered is, if you drink it so should your pets.

Thanks everyone who posted here this is a great topic!!!
 

equus_peduus

Constantly Confused
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Most of the info I'm going to put in this post is off the top of my head, and I'll put a couple links at the bottom. Most of what I know off the top of my head is more pertinent to dogs than chins, but what it does to all species is similar, and the organism is about the same regardless.

Yes, Giardia could potentially be deadly, but usually it is not. It causes a chronic intestinal infection, and causes diarrhea. The Giardia itself is not fatal, but the diarrhea can be if left untreated. It is very, very difficult to clear Giardia completely - hence the multiple different treatment options, and the need to keep contamination down, retest, and possibly multiple treatment cycles. Most animals with Giardia are asymptomatic and become chronic carriers who shed occasionally. It is very difficult to identify these animals.

Giardia is only passed through the feces. It can survive anywhere it's damp, moist or wet, which is why water is such an important aspect of its transmission. However, a lawn that gets watered daily is just as important a possible place of infection. Even carpet within a home, if there's much humidity at all, can be a place the cysts can survive (Dog poops in yard. Dog sits in yard near poop. A few cysts stick to dog's butt. Dog sits on carpet. Cysts on carpet. Other dog sniffs carpet. New dog gets infected.)

To kill Giardia in the environment, quaternary ammonium compounds seem to work the best. Failing that, thorough cleaning of all organic material and bleach can work. Another opton is cleaning, drying, and letting it sit in the sun. Animals infected with Giardia should be bathed (though this is a bit harder with chins than with dogs) thoroughly at the end of their treatment, and kept away from contaminated areas to decrease the number of cysts that are on their body and the potential for re-infection. All feces should be cleaned up immediately. I do not know if temperatures affect the cyst or not; I suspect boiling will kill it, but I don't know about freezing.

Giardia has two forms - a cyst and a trophozoite. The troph is the flagellated form that causes disease in the animal, and is susceptible to killing. When it is shed into the environment, it is in the cyst form, which is very resistent to killing. Both forms are microscopic and cannot be seen with the naked eye. Usually the cyst is the infective stage, since that is the stage that survives outside the body. It is not visible to the naked eye, not able to be picked up and thrown out, and it is not a bacteria. Giardia is a single-celled protozoan.

Current evidence suggests that Giardia is a fairly species-specific infestation. That is, the giardia that affects dogs probably doesn't affect people, etc. This doesn't mean it can't, but we no longer think that it is as zoonotic (able to be transmitted from humans to animals) as much as we used to. Be careful if you think any animal in your house is infected with Giardia, but you should be more careful of not letting it be transmitted within a species than between species. Given the opportunity, dog Giardia will probably infect humans and chins, but it will have a harder time of it than if human giardia came to visit a human.

http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=2386
http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=2328
http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/index.jsp?cfile=htm/bc/21300.htm
 

HedgeMom

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A note on Giardia.

Giardia is very deadly in humans, let alone pets.
No, it's not. Not in the US, not in Canada and not in a healthy person in any country.

http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dpd/parasites/Giardiasis/factsht_giardia.htm

Notice that the CDC talks about not treating a person who tests positive but who is asymptomatic. Because giardia is just not deadly. Not fatal. Not a killer parasite.

PLEASE don't post things that aren't true and are only designed to upset people.
 

Inca-bink

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A bowl that has feces in it is just as dangerous.
Only if the feces comes from an infected animal, and if your chinchilla has Giardia, you need to get it treated. I'm not saying bowls are a good idea, and a soggy cage has other hygiene ramifications, but let's at least keep things accurate.

The cyst form of giadia is the least dangerous, you can see it and easily remove it
This is incorrect. As mentioned above Giardia comes in two forms, the mobile form and the cyst. Both are microscopic. You cannot see them without a microscope. Cysts are shed by infected animals in their feces, and are the protazoan's way of spreading itself to other animals. The flagellate phase remains in the host animal.

You can kill it by either boiling your water or freezing it
According to the conference material from the wildlife disease conference last year, as well as other parasitology texts I have access to in my work, freezing is not an effective way to kill Giardia. Boiling generally works. Freezing does not; cysts are built to be very resistant, and you have no assurance they are nonviable after freezing.

Understanding is good, but I don't think you need to panic. Just take the time to learn and prepare - if you are worried go to the library, or talk to your doctor or vet. Although forums and websites often have good information, it is not always accurate or complete. So investigate on your own and use reliable sources.

I work with wildlife on a day-to-day basis, so I know that I and my animals are at an increased risk of exposure to a zoonotic disease. I have considerable contact with diseases like giardia, coccidea, roundworms, brucellosis, and leptosporiasis, not to mention potentially rabid bats or deer mice with hantavirus. I carry a card in my wallet with a list of "unusual" diseases my doctor should consider if I come down with something. I have actually had Giardia before, and not from drinking stream water or from contaminated tap water. It was actually from another human, and I was young and did not practice effective hygiene.

That is why I have learned how to take precautions. The risk is always there, and elevated because of my line of work, but I can mimimize it by taking simple steps like keeping my work shoes at work where the pets can't get to them and washing my hands. So if I have managed to keep myself and my animals safe in the face of thousands of wild animals, you can keep yours safe in your daily life. I'm not trying to minimize the risks associated with Giardia (usually not fatal if properly treated), but I'm trying to point out that there are many diseases out there that you and your chinchillas can get, and focusing on just one or just one route of exposure (ie. tap water) is just opening yourself up for exposure. Take a step back and find ways of protecting yourself and your family (furry and otherwise) in a more holistic approach and you will be much more successful.
 

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