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Coccidiosis Disease: Symptoms and Prevention

Coccidiosis Disease is a parasitic disease of the intestinal tract of animals caused by coccidian protozoa. The disease spreads from one animal to another by contact with infected feces or ingestion of infected tissue.

Diarrhea, which may become bloody in severe cases, is the primary symptom. Most animals infected with coccidia are asymptomatic, but young or immunocompromised animals may suffer severe symptoms and death.

While coccidia can infect a wide variety of animals, including humans, birds, and livestock, they are usually species-specific. One well-known exception is toxoplasmosis caused by Toxoplasma gondii.

Coccidiosis in chickens can be a potentially life-threatening illness in your backyard flock. Chicks are particularly susceptible to coccidia, but chickens of any age can become ill.

Coccidiosis disease affects chicks at an early age between 3 – 4weeks old or more depending on the type involved.

What is Coccidiosis?

Coccidiosis is caused by a tiny protozoan parasite called coccidia. Coccidia can only be seen with a microscope, but are bigger than bacteria. They can be found naturally in the environment and there are hundreds of different types of coccidia and each one infects a different species of animal. Chickens have 7 different coccidia species that can infect them.

Symptoms of Coccidiosis Disease

Chicks affected by coccidiosis disease will always close their eyes with feathers flying over and will not be able to feed or drink well as usual. There may also be bloody droppings, pale comb and ceasation of egg production in layers.

Coccidia causes illness in chickens by attacking the intestinal lining, causing diarrhea (sometimes bloody, but not always) which then leads to dehydration and malnutrition, and eventually death if not caught and treated immediately.

In some cases, the damage to the intestinal lining can be permanent and the bird may not grow or maintain body weight. Since a chick must eat a coccidia cyst to be infected, it takes a minimum of 2 to 3 weeks for a chick to begin showing symptoms. General lack of vigor or inactivity is usually the first sign, followed by loose, watery stools

Clinical signs of Coccidiosis Disease

Coccidia which are deep tissue invaders such as E. maxima, E. necatrix and E. tenella cause severe necrosis, haemorrhage of the intestinal mucosa, and bloody diarrhoea and may result in death.

Signs include watery and/or bloody droppings, mortality (0-50%), and morbidity (0-100%). Culls appear as pale birds with anaemia, depression, poor weight gain and feed conversion, and a drop in egg production.

Prevention of Coccidiosis Disease

Poultry farmers should ensure that litter are dried at all times. There should not be spillage of water on the floor.

Good brooder hygiene is the best way to prevent an outbreak of coccidia in your chicks. Keep the litter in your brooder dry at all times. Replace the litter if it becomes saturated.

Since newly hatched chicks must be kept at a warmer temperature, the brooder is potentially the perfect environment to allow coccidia to explode in population and quickly infect your chicks.

Many chicken keepers prefer to use anti-coccidiosis medications to help prevent a coccidiosis outbreak in their chicks.

Treatment of Coccidiosis Disease

If your chicks show signs of coccidiosis, you want to treat them immediately. To help reduce the coccidia population and limit the exposure to your chicks, do a complete change of bedding.

Also empty and disinfect all drinkers and feeders with a 10% bleach in water solution before beginning the treatment with an anti-coccidiosis medication. Treat the entire group of chicks by adding the medication to their drinking water according to label directions.

Read Also: Newcastle Disease: Symptoms and Prevention

Coccidiosis Disease: Symptoms and Prevention

List of Symptoms/Signs of Coccidiosis Disease

SignLife StagesType
Cardiovascular Signs / Tachycardia, rapid pulse, high heart rate Sign
Cardiovascular Signs / Tachycardia, rapid pulse, high heart rate Sign
Digestive Signs / Abdominal distention Sign
Digestive Signs / Abnormal colour of stool in birds, white, green, yellow faecesCattle & Buffaloes:Calf,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:All Stages,Pigs:Weaner,Pigs:Growing-finishing pig,Sheep & Goats:LambDiagnosis
Digestive Signs / Anorexia, loss or decreased appetite, not nursing, off feedPoultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature maleSign
Digestive Signs / Bloody stools, faeces, haematocheziaPoultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature maleDiagnosis
Digestive Signs / Dark colour stools, faecesPoultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature maleDiagnosis
Digestive Signs / DiarrhoeaCattle & Buffaloes:Calf,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:All Stages,Pigs:Weaner,Pigs:Growing-finishing pig,Sheep & Goats:LambDiagnosis
Digestive Signs / Excessive salivation, frothing at the mouth, ptyalism Sign
Digestive Signs / Hepatosplenomegaly, splenomegaly, hepatomegalyOther:Adult Female,Other:Adult MaleDiagnosis
Digestive Signs / Melena or occult blood in faeces, stoolsPoultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:JuvenileDiagnosis
Digestive Signs / Mucous, mucoid stools, faecesCattle & Buffaloes:Calf,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Pigs:Weaner,Pigs:Growing-finishing pig,Sheep & Goats:LambDiagnosis
Digestive Signs / Parasites passed per rectum, in stools, faecesCattle & Buffaloes:All Stages,Poultry:All Stages,Other:All Stages,Pigs:All Stages,Sheep & Goats:All StagesDiagnosis
Digestive Signs / Prolapsed rectum, rectal eversion Sign
Digestive Signs / Prolapsed rectum, rectal eversion Sign
Digestive Signs / Steatorrhea, fatty stools, faeces Sign
Digestive Signs / Sunken, empty crop in birdsPoultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature maleSign
Digestive Signs / Unusual or foul odor, stools, faecesCattle & Buffaloes:Calf,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:All Stages,Pigs:Weaner,Pigs:Growing-finishing pig,Sheep & Goats:LambDiagnosis
Digestive Signs / Vomiting or regurgitation, emesis Sign
General Signs / Ataxia, incoordination, staggering, falling Sign
General Signs / Ataxia, incoordination, staggering, falling Sign
General Signs / DehydrationCattle & Buffaloes:Calf,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:All Stages,Pigs:Weaner,Pigs:Growing-finishing pig,Sheep & Goats:LambSign
General Signs / Dysmetria, hypermetria, hypometria Sign
General Signs / Fever, pyrexia, hyperthermia Sign
General Signs / Fever, pyrexia, hyperthermia Sign
General Signs / Generalized weakness, paresis, paralysis Sign
General Signs / Generalized weakness, paresis, paralysis Sign
General Signs / Inability to stand, downer, prostration Sign
General Signs / Inability to stand, downer, prostration Sign
General Signs / Inability to stand, downer, prostration Sign
General Signs / Increased mortality in flocks of birds Sign
General Signs / Lack of growth or weight gain, retarded, stunted growth Sign
General Signs / Lack of growth or weight gain, retarded, stunted growth Sign
General Signs / Lack of growth or weight gain, retarded, stunted growth Sign
General Signs / Opisthotonus Sign
General Signs / Pale comb and or wattles in birdsPoultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature maleSign
General Signs / Pale mucous membranes or skin, anemiaPoultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature maleSign
General Signs / Reluctant to move, refusal to move Sign
General Signs / Sudden death, found deadPoultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:All StagesSign
General Signs / Tenesmus, straining, dyschezia Sign
General Signs / Tenesmus, straining, dyschezia Sign
General Signs / Trembling, shivering, fasciculations, chilling Sign
General Signs / Underweight, poor condition, thin, emaciated, unthriftiness, ill thriftCattle & Buffaloes:Calf,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:All Stages,Pigs:Weaner,Pigs:Growing-finishing pig,Sheep & Goats:LambSign
General Signs / Weakness, paresis, paralysis of the legs, limbs in birds Sign
General Signs / Weight lossCattle & Buffaloes:Calf,Poultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:All Stages,Pigs:Weaner,Pigs:Growing-finishing pig,Sheep & Goats:LambDiagnosis
Musculoskeletal Signs / Forelimb spasms, myoclonus Sign
Musculoskeletal Signs / Hindlimb spasms, myoclonus Sign
Nervous Signs / Abnormal behavior, aggression, changing habits Sign
Nervous Signs / Constant or increased vocalization Sign
Nervous Signs / Dullness, depression, lethargy, depressed, lethargic, listlessPoultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult MaleSign
Nervous Signs / Excessive or decreased sleepingPoultry:Young poultry,Poultry:Mature female,Poultry:Cockerel,Poultry:Mature male,Other:Adult Female,Other:Adult MaleSign
Nervous Signs / Excitement, delirium, mania Sign
Nervous Signs / Head tilt Sign
Nervous Signs / Hyperesthesia, irritable, hyperactive Sign
Nervous Signs / Seizures or syncope, convulsions, fits, collapse Sign
Nervous Signs / Tetany Sign
Nervous Signs / Tremor Sign
Ophthalmology Signs / Blindness Sign
Ophthalmology Signs / Nystagmus Sign
Ophthalmology Signs / Strabismus Sign
Pain / Discomfort Signs / Pain, kidney, ureters, on palpationOther:All StagesSign
Reproductive Signs / Decreased hatchability of eggs Sign
Reproductive Signs / Decreased, dropping, egg production Sign
Reproductive Signs / Male infertility Sign
Respiratory Signs / Dyspnea, difficult, open mouth breathing, grunt, gasping Sign
Respiratory Signs / Dyspnea, difficult, open mouth breathing, grunt, gasping Sign
Respiratory Signs / Increased respiratory rate, polypnea, tachypnea, hyperpnea Sign
Respiratory Signs / Increased respiratory rate, polypnea, tachypnea, hyperpnea Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Rough hair coat, dull, standing on end Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Rough hair coat, dull, standing on end Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Ruffled, ruffling of the feathers Sign

Here are some amazing poultry farming guide and medication books to guide and assist you further:

Reference

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