Coccidiosis is a disease caused in poultry by a protozoan-type parasite which lives and multiplies in the intestinal tract and causes tissue damage. This damage can interfere with the food digestion and nutrient absorption, as well as causing dehydration and blood loss. It can also expose the bird to bacterial infections, like Clostridium and Salmonella. Diseases that suppress the bird’s immune system may act with coccidiosis to produce a more severe problem. For example, Marek’s Disease may interfere with the development of coccidiosis immunity and Infectious Bursal Disease may exacerbate a coccidia infection.
Poultry and birds are affected by coccidia called Eimeria. Nine species of Eimeria infect chickens. The species of importance are Eimeria tenella (90%), E. maxima, E. acervulina and E. mivati in broiler production and E. burnetti and E. necatrix in layer and breeder productions. Out of the seven species that infect turkeys, those of the bigger concern are Eimeria meleagrimitis, E. adenoeides and E. gallapovonis.
Clinical signs of coccidiosis can range from none to bloody droppings, watery diarrhea (flushing), weight loss, paleness and sick bird appearance (ruffled feathers, huddling, depression). Affected birds do not eat and will sometimes march from feed pan to feed pan, vocalizing a high pitched cry. Mortality can range from mild to severe, depending on the species of coccidia involved. All ages of poultry are susceptible to infection, but the disease usually resolves itself around 6-8 weeks of age. The birds are most sensitive between 3â€“5 weeks of age, when the coccidia oocysts are the most numerous in feces or litter. Many times the disease is subclinical and the flock may only show poor weight gains or feed conversions at the end of grow-out.
Birds infected with coccidia may shed oocysts in their feces for days or weeks. Susceptible birds in the same flock may ingest the infective or sporulated oocysts in the litter, soil, feed or water and become infected. Infected feces or litter on boots, clothing, equipment, darkling beetles or in dust can then spread the disease to other houses or farms. Outbreaks occur when susceptible birds ingest massive numbers of sporulated oocysts. The best conditions for oocyst sporulation occur in wet litter with warm temperatures. Oocysts can survive up to 4 years in the environment if conditions are right.
The high standard of flock hygiene, sanitation and poultry farm management helps in achieving optimal benefit from the anticoccidial drugs in preventing coccidiosis. However, the sanitary practice alone is inadequate for complete elimination of coccidial oocysts for the following reasons:
1) there have been too many failures in sanitary programs;
2) oocysts are extremely resistant to common disinfectants;
3) house sterilization is never complete;
4) an oocyst-sterile environment for floor-maintained birds could prevent early establishment of immunity and thus allow late outbreaks. Use of anticoccidial medication program are good management practices for treatment of coccidiosis outbreak.
Zacox plus is a synergistic combination of sulphaclozine and diaveridine used against coccidiosis and diseases caused by bacteria in poultry. Sulphaclozine is an effective antibacterial belonging to the sulphonamides and is widely used for treatment of coccidiosis. It is also indicated for treatment of fowl typhoid and fowl cholera. The synergistic combination of sulphaclozine and diaveridine enhances bacterial and anti-coccidial activity. Zacox also contains Vitamin K3 and Vitamin A which are essential for recovery from hemorrhagic lesions caused by coccidia.