FULTON COUNTY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Fulton County Public Health Department (FCPHD) has released a public service announcement, saying the county is seeing a rise in Giardiasis. Giardiasis is a diarrheal disease caused by a parasite that lives in the intestines and is passed in stool.

According to the FCPHD, once the parasite is out of the body, it can contaminate surfaces and continue to live for weeks. You can become ill if you swallow the Giardia parasite.

Giardiasis can spread by drinking or swimming in untreated water, traveling in areas with poor sanitation, and transferring Giardia germs picked up from contaminated surfaces (bathroom handles, changing tables, diaper pails, etc.) Private wells can also become contaminated after flooding with poorly maintained septic systems in the area.

To prevent Giardiasis, you can wash your hands before eating or preparing food, properly treat water from springs, lakes, rivers, etc., avoid swallowing water from pools, and store food properly.

According to the FCPHD, symptoms of Giariasis include diarrhea, gas, stool that floats, stomach pains, nausea, and dehydration. If you think you have Giariasis, contact your healthcare provider who will ask you to provide a sample to see if you are infected. Prescription drugs are available for treatment if needed.