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Prolonged outbreak of giardiasis with two modes of transmission

  • D. E. KATZ (a1), D. HEISEY-GROVE (a2), M. BEACH (a3), R. C. DICKER (a1) and B. T. MATYAS (a2)...

Large outbreaks of giardiasis caused by person-to-person transmission, or a combination of transmission routes, have not previously been reported. A large, prolonged giardiasis outbreak affected families belonging to a country club in a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts, during June–December 2003. We conducted a retrospective cohort study to determine the source of this outbreak. Giardiasis-compatible illness was experienced by 149 (25%) respondents to a questionnaire, and was laboratory confirmed in 97 (65%) of these cases. Of the 30 primary cases, exposure to the children's pool at the country club was significantly associated with illness (risk ratio 3·3, 95% confidence interval 1·7–6·5). In addition, 105 secondary cases probably resulted from person-to-person spread; 14 cases did not report an onset date. This outbreak illustrates the potential for Giardia to spread through multiple modes of transmission, with a common-source outbreak caused by exposure to a contaminated water source resulting in subsequent prolonged propagation through person-to-person transmission in the community. This capacity for a common-source outbreak to continue propagation through secondary person-to-person spread has been reported with Shigella and Cryptosporidium and may also be a feature of other enteric pathogens having low infectious doses.

Corresponding author
Massachusetts Department of Public Health, 305 South Street, Room 508, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130, USA. (Email:
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Epidemiology & Infection
  • ISSN: 0950-2688
  • EISSN: 1469-4409
  • URL: /core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection
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