Coccidiosis disease is a parasitic caused by a group of microscopic protozoa known as coccidia. These single-celled organisms can infect various animals’ intestinal tracts, leading to various symptoms and health problems. The disease spreads through contact with infected feces or ingestion of infected tissue, and its primary symptom is diarrhea, which can become bloody in severe cases.
While most infected animals are asymptomatic, young or immunocompromised animals may suffer severe symptoms and even death. Coccidia is usually species-specific, meaning they only infect certain animals, making the disease a significant concern for livestock, pet owners, and those who work with animals. Effective prevention and treatment strategies are critical to controlling coccidiosis and limiting its impact on animal health and welfare.
Coccidiosis Disease Management in Chicken
Disease Cycle of Coccidiosis Disease
- Shedding: The infected bird sheds oocysts containing the coccidian protozoa in its feces.
- Sporulation: The oocysts are excreted onto the litter, where they sporulate (develop and become infective) within one to two days, depending on environmental conditions.
- Ingestion: Other birds can become infected by ingesting the sporulated oocysts through contaminated feed, water, or litter.
- Invasion: Once inside the bird’s digestive tract, the coccidia imbeds in the intestinal lining and multiply several times, causing damage to the tissue.
- Shedding: The infected bird then sheds more oocysts in its feces, continuing the cycle.
The entire life cycle of Eimeria takes about four to seven days to complete, during which the birds may show various symptoms of coccidiosis, including diarrhea, reduced growth rates, and decreased feed efficiency.
Occurrence of Coccidiosis Disease in Chicken
Coccidiosis disease can occur in chickens when the level of coccidiostat in the feed is low, when birds are not eating enough, or when the coccidiostat is withdrawn too early before immunity has developed. The disease spreads quickly, and the survival of poultry depends on rapid treatment. Outbreaks may occur in meat and laying flocks, reducing growth rates, feed conversions, egg production, and eggshell quality. Good coop management, biosecurity practices, and treating young chickens are critical to preventing coccidiosis.
Causes of Coccidiosis Disease in Chicken
Coccidiosis in chickens is caused by the ingestion of large numbers of sporulated oocysts of the Eimeria species, which are shed in the droppings of infected or recovered birds. Host genetics, nutritional factors, concurrent diseases, age, and species of the coccidium influence the disease.
The most pathogenic species in chickens are Eimeria necatrix and Eimeria tenella, which cause extensive hemorrhage in the small intestine and ceca, respectively. Pathogenicity can be reduced by developing protective immunity through moderate and continuing infection. Coccidia can be transmitted by mechanical carriers and can survive for long periods in the environment.
What are the Symptoms of Coccidiosis Disease?
- Droopiness and depression.
- Pale comb.
- Mucous and blood in the droppings.
- Loss of appetite.
- Loss of condition.
- Ruffled feathers.
- Whitish soiling around the vent.
- Decreased growth rate.
- Severe diarrhea.
- High mortality.
- Depressed feed and water c