Coccidiosis In Poultry

Coccidiosis is a protozoan disease in birds generally causing an ecomonic loss in poultry industry world wide. The causative organisms are Eimeria spp. and the infection is spread through ingestion of infective oocysts in the fecal droppings resulting in production of new oocysts in the intestines thereby damaging the intestinal system of the birds.

Coccidiosis are classified into:

Small Intestine Coccidiosis caused by E. acervulina, E. mitis, E. mivati E. brunetti, E. maxima, E. nagani, E. necatrix and E. praecox.

Caecal Coccidiosis caused by E. tenella which is characterised with haemorrhages in the intestinal wall.

Good hygiene and litter management help in reducing the transmission of oocysts. Keeping dry litters reduce the number of infective oocysts in the litter.

 Signs of Coccidiosis

Birds that have coccidiosis will stay away from feed and water causing weight loss, poor growth, poor carcass quality, bloody droppings, diarhoea and increased mortality. It is characterized by enteritis and anaemia and ruffled feathers which will be observed in the flock.

Post Mortem

  •  dehydration, an anaemic body and internal organs are seen;
  •  clotted or fresh blood will be found in the caeca;
  •  haemorrhages will be seen in the intestinal wall;
  •  at advananced stage the content in the caeca will be thick mixed with fibrinous exudate;

Coccidiosis must be properly diagnosed by the farmer or consult the services of a veterinarian.


Farmer must have a robust prevention programmes that will shield the birds from coming down with coccidiosis. Therefore the following approach will be effective: Vaccination and use of coccidiostat.


Immunization against coccidiosis with commercial vaccines are effective if the farm has good management. Live oocyst non-attenuated vaccines are defined as vaccinations which introduce a controlled number of oocysts of one or more wild-type Eimeria species to induce protective immunity. The vaccine contains cultured oocysts in that will help the birds to develop immunity to all Eimeria species. Anticoccidial drugs or sulpha drugs must not be added water or feed as this will deactivate the vaccine. Some coccidiosis vaccines include Immucox, Livacox, Paracox and Coccivac.


Use of wide range of anticoccidial drugs during the rearing period is very effective. The schedule can be developed by an experienced veterinarians or animal scientists. Examples of anticoccidial drugs are-

  • Sulfonamides e.g sulfaquinoxaline, sulfadimethoxine and sulfaquinoxaline, combination with vitamins A and K helps the birds to quickly recover.
  • Toltazuril and Vazuril are highly effective against a broad spectrum of coccidia when used in water.
  • Ionophores:  lasalocid,monensin, narasin maduramicin and salinomicin are included in feeds for the prevention of coccidiosis.

The poultry industry must be aware of effect of high mycotoxins in poultry feed which is an immunosuppressor and gate opener for diseases like coccidiosis, so an effective toxin binder must be used in feed. All farmers must take precautions to prevent colosal loss that may erupt as a result of coccidiosis outbreak by ensuring good farm hygiene and observe the birds daily for any sign of coccidiosis; PREVENTION IS BETTER AND CHEAPER THAN CURE.


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