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Adv Parasitol. 2004;58:69-137.

Variation in Giardia: implications for taxonomy and epidemiology.

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WHO Collaborating Centre for the Molecular Epidemiology of Parasitic Infections, Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA 1650, Australia.


The taxonomy, life cycle patterns and zoonotic potential of Giardia infecting mammals and birds have been poorly understood and controversial for many years. The development of molecular tools for characterising isolates of Giardia directly from faeces or environmental samples has made an enormous contribution to resolving these issues. It is now clear that the G. duodenalis morphological group is a species complex comprising a series of what appear to be largely host-adapted species, and at least two zoonotic species for which humans are the major host, but which are also capable of infecting other mammals. It is proposed that this new information be reflected in the redesignation of several species of Giardia described previously. The molecular epidemiological tools that are now available need to be applied in different endemic foci of Giardia transmission, as well as in outbreak situations, in order to understand better the frequency of zoonotic transmission as well as to develop more effective approaches to controlling giardiasis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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