Ark Veterinary Centre

EWES NEWS Coccidiosis

Jun 6, 2019
EWES NEWS Coccidiosis

Coccidiosis is a major cause of scour in growing lambs. The disease is caused by an intracellular protozoan parasite of which two pathogenic strains, Eimeria crandallis and Eimeria ovinoidalis, are present in the UK. Coccidia are host specific and so cannot be transferred from lambs to other species on farm.

Clinical signs are most commonly seen in lambs aged 4-8 weeks old. The parasite causes damage to the intestinal tract, leading to       diarrhoea which often contains blood and mucus. Accompanying signs include straining, pain, dehydration, weight loss and potentially death of the lamb. It is important to remember coccidiosis can also be an “invisible disease” where low-moderate parasite burdens cause gut damage leading to poor growth rates.

Diagnosis of coccidiosis is most commonly based on history and  clinical signs, though care must be taken and veterinary advice sought as a number of other conditions can present similarly.       Diagnosis can be confirmed using faecal egg counts and speciation to prove pathogenic coccidia species are present. 

Lambs can be treated from 4-6 weeks old, with two licensed    drenches available. In-feed coccidiostats may be used to minimise shedding by older animals. Prevention should be based on           appropriate hygiene protocols, minimising stress events and          optimising nutrition. Treatment plans and preventative measures may depend largely on individual circumstance so please get in touch with us to discuss coccidiosis on your farm.  Nematodirus Forecast The latest SCOPS forecast is predicting a very high nematodirus risk for much of the Dumfries and Galloway area. Lambs aged 6-12 weeks on pasture grazed by last season’s lambs should be           considered high risk. Faecal egg counts are not reliable in diagnosis as signs occur before eggs are shed, but are useful when done 7-10 days following treatment to ensure efficacy. It is recommended that any scouring lambs that die suddenly are sent to the lab for post mortem examination.