Children at particular risk for catching sickening parasite

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Creepy crawlies are living in the water.

Giardia is a parasite that is invisible to the human eye, but the impact is felt by millions of people worldwide.

Children are especially vulnerable to the parasite - which sickens millions of people.

The symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal cramps.

The CDC has awarded Dr. Sid Das and his team of young researchers at the University of Texas El Paso more than two million dollars to fight the parasite Giardia.

Giardia can infect anyone. But, children in developing countries including Mexico are especially vulnerable.

International travelers also pick up the parasite that  spreads by contaminated drinking water or ice, unwashed fruits and vegetables or by swallowing water while swimming in lakes and streams where Giardia lives - including  in the U.S.

This time of year Giardia can also pose a problem for swimmers. The parasite can survive up to an hour in chlorinated pools.

The new research targets the protective cyst that allows Giardia to survive outside the human body for months.

The ultimate goal of this research is to develop new treatments that specifically target this parasite.

The current medication on the market is decades old and has some unpleasant side effects.  --including --at least temporarily --some of the same stomach problems created by the parasite in the first place.