Giardia intestinalis

A protozoan from the flagellate group
Herbert Hof
Giardia intestinalis
© CDC/James Archer; Illustrator: Jennifer Oosthuizen; public domain

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These parasites are also commonly known as lamblia, after the Bohemian physician Vilém Dušan Lambl (1824–1895). However, the generally accepted name today is giardia intestinalis, the only species in the genus.


The vegetative trophozoites of Giardia are strongly flagellated and therefore belong to the flagellates. These trophozoites occur in the small intestine and multiply there. They attach themselves to the small intestinal epithelium and thereby strengthen the epithelial barrier, which leads to malabsorption of nutrients. They also feed on bile acids, and this deficiency leads to maldigestion. As a result of colonization of the small intestine, upper abdominal discomfort and voluminous stools can occur, rarely accompanied by severe symptoms. A systemic infection does not occur. In principle, the diagnosis is made through the microscopic examination of small intestinal secretions. The microscopic or immunological detection (ELISA) of cysts in the stool is of greatest practical…

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