Coccidiosis–A Disease Caused By Protozoa In Young Chickens
COCCIDIA OR EMERIA & ABOUT COCCIDIOSIS: Have you ever experienced heavy death losses in young baby chicks sometimes passing bloody stools or dying like flies. The disease can occur as early as 7days of age; especially if poultry house is not cleaned free of feces of older chickens and disinfected. There are eleven species of protozoa or called Emeria; chickens are susceptible to all. Stages of coccidia in chickens appear both within the host as well as outside. The developmental stages in the chicken give rise to a microscopic egg (called an oocyst) which is passed out in the droppings. Under proper conditions of temperature and moisture the oocyst develops within one to two days.
HOW DO BIRDS BECOME INFECTED? Normally, most birds pass small numbers of oocysts in their droppings without apparent ill effects. Coccidiosis becomes important as a disease when animals live, or are reared, under conditions that permit the build-up of infective oocysts in the environment. Young chickens pick up the infection from contaminated premises (soil, houses, utensils, etc.). These may have been contaminated previously by other young infected birds or by adult birds that have recovered from the condition. Wet areas around water fountains are a source of infection. Oocysts remain viable in litter for many months. In this way they can contaminate a farm from year to year. Oocysts are killed by freezing, extreme dryness and high temperatures.
PATHOLOGY OF EMERIA: E. Tenella, E. necetrix, E. acervulina and E. Maxima cause serious disease with high death losses. Eimeria tenella develops in the cells of the ceca (which are the two blind sacs near the end of the intestine). E. necatrix develops in the small intestine (early stages) and later in the cecum (sexual stages). Like E. tenella, it develops within deeper tissues of the small intestine and is a major pathogen of poultry. However the E. acervulina and E. maxima cause chronic intestinal disease.
CONTROL BY MANAGEMENT: It is better not having such a problem; you can avoid by having dry litter condition as opposed to wet litter caused by spilled water. Construct a small wooden frame from 2 inches X four inches thick wood. Cut 4 pieces, each piece 2 feet long; nail all the four pieces to construct a box, with each side measuring 2 feet in dimension. Secure with nails; a half or 1 inch wide grid wire screen on the top of this frame. Fill this box with sand. Place the water containers on top of the wire of this box. The spilled water will be absorbed in the sand and the birds will not be able to scratch the wet areas and get contamination from coccidial oocysts. If this box has to be moved to a different location; collect all sand and discard it far away from the poultry house making sure the birds can have no access. Rabbit water drinkers, half gallon size can also be used for the water drinking purposes. Chickens adapt quickly to such nipple drinkers. One container is adequate for 8-10 chickens. Using such drinkers will eliminate water spillage or wet litter. These are available from commercial poultry feed stores such as Dell stores in North West USA.
PREVENTIVE & CURATIVE TREATMENT: Provide feed medicated with Amprolium right from day one of age; it is medicine that does not let the coccidia develop. Disease may develop if litter is wet; birds will have ruffled feather and may pass blood; in that case treat with the Amprolium at the recommended therapeutic dose level. Contact Dr. Dhillon; firstname.lastname@example.org for a proper diagnosis or treatment.