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Coccidiosis

A rapidly developing intestinal disease, presenting with diarrhoea and listlessness. It can be fatal if not treated.

Coccidiosis has become an increasing problem in recent years due to the prophylactic use of antibiotics (e.g. Amprolium) in the feeds of young animals. Instead of developing a natural immunity to common coccidia, resistant varieties have developed, in some cases there is no antibiotic treatment left that will touch them. The implications here are very worrying. In my opinion antibiotics should never be given as a routine preventitive, as it is inevitable that resistant organisms will develop in due course. Therefore coccidiosis should only be treated as it occurs. The only safe modern drugs are sulfadimethoxine (brand name Albon) or sodium sulfamethazine (brand name Sulmet). The former is less toxic, but the latter is more effective. Of course there are reports of resistance to these in some instances. There is new anti-protazoal drug on the market, called toltrazuril (brand name Baycox) which claims to be effective against coccidiosis.

Herbs used to treat coccidiosis include picorrhiza, garlic, cloves, and slippery elm. An Indian company, Growell, is offering an all herbal coccidiosis treatment product called Coxynil. They can be contacted at growell@axess.com. Herbs appear to work as a preventitive for coccidia. All animals carry a small number of coccidia in the gut. They frequently become ploblematic when the animal is run down by other parasites, such as threadworm. As herbal wormers are more effective on certain worms than chemical wormers, holistically, chances of coccidiosis are lessened by the use of herbs.

One of the problems with treating severe cases of coccidiosis is that the animal is frequently not interested in drinking. Drenches may have to be used. With poultry it is usually sufficient to dip their beaks into the medicated water, as they will instinctively swallow. Diarrhoea leads to dehydration, and this is what will kill, so every effort should be made to get fluids into the animal at frequent intervals. Isolation and scrupulous cleanliness are vital to prevent spread of this disease. Treat sick animals after dealing with healthy ones, then change your clothes, shower, and wash your boots before handling healthy animals again.