Coccidia and Eimeria

Based on notes from a short course at the Free State University, Prof Ivan Horak

The coccidia Eimeria and Isospora occur in the intestines of all animals, but causes diseases only when the resistance of the animal is low. It is difficult diagnosing coccidiosis, because clinical bloody signs are associated with the latter part of the early sexual phase with females.

Coccidiosis is transmitted by ingestion of sporulated oocysts, (the infectious stage) and the infection can be acquired from contaminated feed, water, grazing pastures, soiled pastures or by licking a hair coat, contaminated by oocysts in one way or another.

Coccidia destroy the animal’s intestinal cells, which results in loss of blood and other fluids into the small intestine. Blood and other bodily fluids then pass in the faeces, which should be very watery.

Death is primarily a result of diarrhea, which causes a loss of electrolytes and dehydration. The clinical course of coccidiosis ranges from 4 to 14 days. Losses due to coccidiosis result from a decrease in absorption of nutrients due to damage to the intestinal lining.

Reality is, the coccidia Eimeria and Isospora occur in the intestines of all animals and it outbreaks will happen when the resistance of the animal is low. The question to answer is, what is the possible causative stress factors for the enclosed animals.

Preventative care

Proper sanitation and good animal husbandry practices are important in preventing coccidiosis. Water and feed troughs should be constructed and located to reduce faecal contamination.


Although coccidiosis is considered a disease of young animals, older animals are frequently infected with Eimeria. The severity of clinical coccidiosis depends on the number of sporulated oocysts ingested and the general health of the infected host.

An objective of control must be then to reduce the possible number of oocysts available for ingestion.

The problem in treating coccidiosis

Infected animals often recover without treatment due to acquired resistance to the disease

  1. The signs of the disease do not appear until the life cycle is almost complete

  2. Coccidiosis parasites have already passed through the life cycle stage where anticoccidial drugs are most effective.

  3. Tt this stage, the gut of the animal may have been already severely damaged.

Characteristics of Sable antelope, as a possible cause of stres

To many this is a stupid question, but it remains still a factor.

We know that Sable bulls are aggressive, fierce fighting occur between bulls when a female is in oestrus and there to mate. The female will be taken out by the bull, away from the female herd when she is in oestrus.

This period ensures a huge amount of stress unto the bulls and females. Feeding is irregular and indifferent and huge amounts of energy as well as mineral usage are natural. This period is also a time and period when their immunity systems are on the low side, resulting in possible parasitic infestations and attacks.

Thoughts and questions

Intellectual ability

There is a question to the stress animal’s experience, in correlation with their possible “intellectual” ability. What role does their understanding play to the stress they experience in the way they individually perceive the environment they are enclosed in.

What role does it play in the needs to naturally reproduce, the way they are managed, enclosed, their personal craving towards mineral more or less mineral needs, indifferent grazing needs, individual mineral needs and mineral deficiency needs. There is no way that an animal, though the same specie, have a linear mineral equation in the mineral requirements the individual need.

Females in oestrus in enclosed areas need more supplements to ensure a healthy sperm take from the bull. During the gestation periods, supplements such as absorbable Vitamin A, D and E will ensure a healthy natural development /growth of the unborn, hopefully in an acceptable stress environment, as stress to the animals is natural and a needy part of their existence.

(Will do a write up to the various minerals to game in a follow up)

Why sensible parasitic control in this period.

It is very important in the gestation period, to allow a natural balance of parasitic infestation to te animal. This will keep the female’s immunity system intact and well balanced.

The reason for this is to transfer the acquired natural immunity off the female (acquired over time) and resistance to the various influences of the environments parasites, over to the natural development of the unborn calf.

As said, a program where enzootic stability is formulated and established naturally to the parasites of the environment, is in the best economic interest of the breeder and his animals.


Lastly, the just borne calf needs healthy colostrum. This matter is not always well understood and a very neglected matter in the game industry, it seems.

Colostrum transfers the very best of the required and acquired health, resistance, qualities of the mother to the youngster. A calf raised in this manner, adapt faster, grow faster and acquire very quickly its own natural resistance to the parasites of the environment. But, healthy colostrum needs to be ensured long before calving.

This clearly explains why parasite control should be done on a planned, strategic and scientific basis.

Pierre van Niekerk

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