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Understanding coccidiosis

Coccidiosis is a disease of the intestinal tract caused by single celled intracellular parasites of the genus Eimeria. It affects several different species, both farmed and wild, with young stock such as lambs and calves being at highest risk of disease.1

There are over 20 different species of coccidia in cattle and sheep which are host specific with no cross infection between different host species.

It is important to note that not all species of coccidia are pathogenic:
In calves three cause disease:
  • Eimeria zuernii.
  • Eimeria bovis.
  • Eimeria alabamensis.
In lambs, only two are known to cause disease:
  • Eimeria ovinoidalis.
  • Eimeria crandalis.

¹ Taylor, M. A., and J. Catchpole, 1994: Coccidiosis of domestic ruminants. Appl. Parasitol. 35, 73-86

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