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Can I Develop a Giardia Immunity?

Regarding Giardia and crypto: Can one develop a tolerance or immunity to them? I remember drinking from streams as a child while fishing and hiking in the backcountry. Surely I couldn't have been lucky than many times.

Question:

Regarding Giardia and crypto: Can one develop a tolerance or immunity to them?  I remember drinking from streams as a child while fishing and hiking in the backcountry.  Surely I couldn’t have been lucky than many times.

Submitted by - -Lonnie J., Donkin, NS

Answer:

The short answer is yes. Many people, as many as one out of every 10, can carry Giardia without ever knowing they are a carrier. Everyone seems to develop at least some immunity after a case of giardiasis.

With cryptosporidium the answer is less clear. Immunity does seem to develop in some people after exposure, but if those same people swallow enough of the pathogen later, they will probably get cryptosporidiosis again. You have to down more than a few to get sick, so, in fact, no matter your tolerance for both germs, if you drink enough of them, you may get the disease. You could have indeed been lucky.—Buck

1 Comment

  1. Reamo

    As a wildlife biologist that has had experience with Giardia, I have a theory that you can develop regional immunity. I attribute this to personal experience and cant back it up scientifically. Anyway, as a kid growing up in Arkansas (where giardia can be found), I drank out of several springs and streams (including the Buffalo River) and never had any issues. After high school, I headed to MT for a summer job on a ranch near the Bob Marshall. Working with native Montanans, they would drink from a clear Mt. stream with no issues but when I did, I picked up giardia immediately of which I received treatment for. They started boiling water for me in camp while they continued to drink from streams. I decided to rebel again, drank from the stream and got giardia again! That was 30 yrs ago and I havent had it since now I always filter my back country water. This is why I have the theory that I could handle AR giardia but not MT giardia like the locals there could..or maybe I was just lucky in AR!

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