Coccidiosis is an infection of the intestinal tract caused by a one-celled organism called coccidia. Infection is usually mild, but can be damaging or life threatening to newborn, young, elderly animals or any animal with a weak immune system.
Immature coccidia, called oocysts, are passed in the stool of an infected animal. They survive for a long time and mature on the ground. If an animal swallows the matured oocysts, they begin to replicate in the animal's intestine.
Causes of infection include:
• Eating contaminated ground
• Eating an infected mouse
• Babies nursing from an infected mother
• Animals less than 6 months have no immunity to coccidia, and can get the disease from other infected animals
In kennels, animal shelters, and breeding facilities, infected animals should be isolated.
Many animals that are infected with coccidia do not display signs.
However, Puppies, Kittens and weakened pets may display the following signs:
• Severe, watery, bloody diarrhea
• Vomiting and dehydration
• Weight loss
• Abdominal pain
Quick treatment is crucial for newborn animals to prevent life threatening dehydration. If you see dehydration or diarrhea for more than a day, call your veterinarian.
Your veterinarian will do the following:
• Review medical history
• Perform a physical exam
• Study a stool sample
Coccidiosis is very easy to treat with antibiotics.
Albon is an antibiotic commonly used which comes in tablets and liquid. This medication disrupts the life cycle, which allows your pet's immune system to clear the infection.
Recovery depends on the number of coccidia infecting your pet and strength of your pet's immune system. Some strains are resistant and require multiple treatments with different antibiotics to kill the infection. Some animals are never able to develop immunity and chronically get reinfected.
Your pet may need other drugs to treat diarrhea and dehydration. In severe cases, hospitalization may be required for rehydration.
Keep a clean environment, and dispose of feces properly to prevent coccidiosis from spreading. Coccidia is also contagious to people. Please practice good hygiene when disposing of feces or petting your pet.
In most cases, coccidiosis is mild disease with a good prognosis.