Giardia -- it's a word no pet lover wants to hear.
A microscopic parasite that causes the diarrheal illness known as giardiasis, giardia can be found in the environment or on any surface that has been in contact with feces from infected animals. The problem is particularly acute in animal shelters, where treatment can delay or even cancel animal adoptions.
The solution is to clean and disinfect the areas where the animals live. And the best method for that is steam cleaning, according to Dr. Wendy Wolfson, assistant professor at Louisiana State University's School of Veterinary Medicine.
"Some animal shelters use pressure washers, along with disinfectants to clean for giardia, but steam cleaning is the preferred method," said Dr. Wolfson, who specializes in shelter medicine.
The high-temperature steam eradicates the parasites on contact. Dr. Wolfson also noted steam is particularly effective on porous surfaces like concrete, found in many animal shelters.
Another benefit to using steam cited by Dr. Wolfson is fighting the bugs that have been become resistant to traditional disinfectants.
Once in the environment, giardia is known to survive weeks or even months. Whether keeping animal shelters safe and sanitary, or treating a pet's home environment, steam cleaning is the best solution to controlling giardia.
That's why the Humane Society of Independence County in Batesville, Arkansas recently reached out to Vapor Clean for help. Veterinarian Dr. Nanci Solis, who supports the shelter, described "an increasing and ongoing problem with giardia in the dogs." It had become so serious, she said "the shelter board made the difficult decision to close intakes to additional dogs until they could get this problem under control."
Dr. Solis spoke to Dr. Wolfson at LSU, who confirmed "that the only thing missing from our protocol is steam cleaning."
As a result of her request for help, Vapor Clean donated a Pro6 Duo, continuous refill steam cleaning unit to the shelter.
"I cannot thank you enough for your generosity and for your rapid response," Dr. Solis wrote to Vapor Clean president Kathryn Lemieux. "This is beyond what we could have dreamed of or hoped for - thank you! You have no idea how much this means to us to now be able to effectively eliminate the encysted form of this terrible intestinal parasite."
Vapor Clean maintains a Shelter Donation program. If you know of an animal shelter in need, go here for more information and how to request assistance.