Common causes of gastrointestinal disease, both bacterial and parasitic, are headed in different directions according to numbers from Florida health officials.

Giardia lamblia/CDC
Giardia lamblia/CDC

The number of cases of giardiasis, caused by the protozoan parasite, Giardia intestinalis (lamblia) are down a little in 2015. For the first six months of the year, the state has seen 471 cases, compared to 507 cases during the same period in 2014.

Giardia intestinalis (lamblia) is the most common intestinal parasite found in humans in the United States.

Giardia is a protozoan parasite that lives in the intestine of infected humans and animals (in particular, beavers and domestics animals like cats and dogs). It is found in the environment on surfaces (where it can survive for long periods), water and food that has been contaminated with the feces from an infected person or animal.

A more dramatic drop can be seen in cases of shigellosis in Florida in 2015. This year, 984 cases have been reported, in 2014 from Jan through June, Florida saw 1317 cases.

Shigellosis is spread from person-to-person through the fecal-oral route. The bacteria can be transferred easily among children because of their poor hand washing habits and tendency to put things in their mouths. People can also become infected by consuming food or drinks prepared by an infected person or handling or cleaning up feces.

Symptoms usually begin 24 to 72 hours after exposure and last about four to seven days without treatment; however, severe infections may require antibiotics.

With salmonella infections in the Sunshine state, slightly more than 2000 cases have been reported during the first six months of 2015. Last year during the same period, 1989 cases were seen.

Salmonella is a bacteria that lives in the intestines of people, animals and birds. It generally causes symptoms of diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, and sometimes vomiting. For the elderly,
children, and those with compromised immune systems, symptoms can be more serious. Symptoms often begin 12-72 hours after consuming contaminated food. Commonly infected
foods can include raw meat, poultry and seafood, raw eggs, fruits and vegetables.

Related: Cryptosporidium: How does Florida stack up?

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