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Giardia and risk

Charles T. Faulkner ctfaulkn at utkux.utcc.utk.edu
Thu Mar 28 13:19:36 EST 1996

On Thu, 28 Mar 1996, Michael Casteel wrote:

> Somebody, anybody tell me what you think. Using Giardia lamblia as 
> an example, do you think that risk of exposure to this organism has 
> decreased since the 1960s due to an increase in our knowledge of 
> the biology, control/prevention measures (i.e., water treatement 
> processes), etc. that we have gained since that time? That is, 
> would risk be inversely proportional to knowledge of the risk? What 
> I am interested in is if you think there is a relationship between 
> the two. If there is, do other factors, such as socioeconomic ones, 
> make a possible relationship insignificant? I hope Dr. C. Haas 
> reads this and responds.
	I question wether or not the issue of "perception of risk" can even be 
addressed until an actual assement of risk of infection has been done.  
Most notions of acquiring giardiasis in National Parks, municipal water 
systems etc. are largely based on anecdotal evidence.  Often a diagnosis 
is made based elimination of clinical signs in response to drug therapy 
rather than microscopic confirmation of infection.  Brent Dixon has done 
some solid work on Giarida in foodstuffs, but I don't know of anyone else 
conducting similar work.  

It would be interesting to conduct an actual 
study on Risk perceptions of obtaining Giardiasis, especially since the 
Outdoor Recreation industry is making a lot of money marking products 
based on the assumption that actual risk is greater than percieved risk. 
How about this for a testable hypothesis (1) Are pet owners at greater 
risk for Giardia infection than backpackers?, (2) Which group percieves 
it is at higher risk for aquiring the parasite? 

Interesting food for thought......so many ideas for research.......so 
little time!

*      Charles T. Faulkner       *   Get your facts first and then you
*  Univ of Tennessee, Knoxville  *   can distort them as much as you please.
*     (ctfaulkner at utk.edu)       *                Mark Twain

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