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Post epidemic giardiasis and gastrointestinal symptoms among preschool children in Bergen, Norway. A cross-sectional study

Kristin M Mellingen1*, Anita Midtun1, Kurt Hanevik1, Geir E Eide23, Øystein Søbstad4 and Nina Langeland15

Author affiliations

1 Institute of Medicine, University of Bergen, Haukeland University Hospital, N-5021 Bergen, Norway

2 Centre for Clinical Research, Haukeland University Hospital, N-5021 Bergen, Norway

3 Research group of Lifestyle Epidemiology, Department of Public Health and Primary Health Care, University of Bergen, N-5020 Bergen, Norway

4 Department of Health and Social Welfare, City of Bergen, N-5020 Bergen, Norway

5 Department of Medicine, Haukeland University Hospital, N-5021 Bergen, Norway

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Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2010, 10:163  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-163

Published: 26 March 2010



A surprisingly low number of children became ill with giardiasis during the large waterborne outbreak of Giardia lamblia in Bergen, Norway during autumn 2004. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the prevalence of giardiasis among exposed children one year after an outbreak and compare faecal carriage of Giardia and abdominal symptoms among exposed versus unexposed children one year after the epidemic.


Children between 1 and 6 years old were recruited from the local health care centres in Bergen municipality in the period between June 2005 and January 2006. One faecal sample per child was collected and examined for presence of Giardia with a rapid immunoassay antigen test, and parents were asked to answer a questionnaire. A total of 513 children participated, 378 in the group exposed to contaminated water, and 135 in the in the group not exposed.


In the exposed group eleven children had been treated for giardiasis during the epidemic and none in the unexposed group. Giardia positive faecal tests were found in six children, all in the exposed group, but the difference between the groups did not reach statistical significance. All six Giardia positive children were asymptomatic. No differences were found between the groups regarding demographic data, nausea, vomiting, different odour from stools and eructation. However, the reported scores of abdominal symptoms (diarrhoea, bloating and stomach ache) during the last year were higher in the exposed group than in the unexposed group.


A low prevalence of asymptomatic Giardia infection (1.7%) was found among exposed children around one year after the epidemic (1.2% overall prevalence in the study). In the present setting, pre-school children were therefore unlikely to be an important reservoir for continued transmission in the general population.