Parasites & Pests
Coccidiosis is an infection of intestinal epithelium caused by protozoan parasites.
All livestock species, as well as wild animals, can be infected. Coccidiosis is especially prevalent when birds or mammals are grouped together. Coccidia oocysts are highly resistant to environmental conditions, and disinfectants, making coccidiosis control difficult.
Coccidiosis is characterised by an invasion of the intestinal wall by the Coccidia parasite. The parasite then goes through several stages of growth and multiplication, during which damage occurs to the mucosal and submucosal tissues of the intestine.
Depending on the Coccidia strain involved and the animal species affected, the disease complexes can range from subclinical infections to infections that include severe intestinal problems with severe lesions in the gastrointestinal tract, to diarrhoea that can result in high mortality and/or a negative impact on the factors of production
Coccidiosis in cattle. What is it costing you?
Damage to intestinal lining
During the infection, the coccidial parasites can cause severe damage to the intestinal lining. This usually results in the calf developing diarrhoea. In severe cases, calves develop a characteristic ‘bloody scour’.
Ability to convert feed
Although some calves in a group may not show clinical signs of coccidiosis, the infection will affect the calves’ appetite, and ability to reach their full potential.
Setback to growth
It is vital replacement heifers don’t receive a ‘setback’ while they are growing. If growth rates aren’t maintained, heifers will have delayed sexual maturity, and take longer to produce their first calf.
Calves with slower growth rates and poor health will need additional care. They usually require additional medication, and never fully recover
from a ‘setback’.
Although farmers know the typical signs of coccidiosis in calves, most are unaware of the damage that subclinical coccidiosis can cause. Where one calf in a group is suffering from clinical disease, the chances are that others in the group have subclinical disease, and should be treated as well.
Increased live weight at calving will also increase lifetime milk yield
Each 1kg increase in live weight attained before the heifer calves equates to 7 litres of milk per lactation after calving, and this response is apparent for at least three lactations. A 50kg increase in live weight can result in an increase of 350L of milk in the heifer’s first lactation or 1000L during her lifetime.
“Coccidiosis can set back calves by as much as two months” (Steinfelder et al. 2005)
Insuring against the risk of coccidiosis is a vital measure to enable a dairy herd to reach its productivity potential. Treating all ‘at risk’ calves before the onset of clinical disease makes good sense, as it will improve the health status of replacement calves.
Important to consider
For subclinical coccidiosis:
- Diarrhoea does not have to be present
- By the time symptoms appear, most of the damage is done
- Coccidiosis is highly contagious
Stop Coccidiosis in Piglets
Poor health means economic loss
An infection can lead to increased piglet mortality, however, the most common problem is diarrhoea leading to poor animal condition, weight loss, retarded growth and, inevitably, lower weaning weights and an economic loss.
Coccidiosis occurs when piglets ingest coccidial oocyts (external stage of the life cycle), from the farrowing pen surroundings. These oocyts are found in faeces and on pen surfaces, usually having been carried over from the previous litter.
Once oocyts are ingested by the piglet they begin a maturation process whilst moving doen towards the small intestine. In the small intestine these coccidia enter the intestinal wall and undergo multiple stages of their life cycle. After 5 to 7 days of infection the coccidia re-emerge from the intestinal wall as oocysts and are excreted back into the external environment. This mass emergence of mature coccidia from the intestinal wall causes diarrhoea.
Treatment of Coccidiosis in Poultry
Coccidiosis is one of the most important disease of commercial poultry. Chickens can be infected by different coccidia species, all of the genus Eimeria. Depending on evironmental factors such as temperature, humidity and hygience status, and factors specific to the host animal, coccidia infections can lead to serious disease or even death in poultry.