Coccidiosis is an intestinal parasite that affects most animal species, including humans; however, the most common coccidia found in our pets do not impact on the health of humans.
In dogs, most coccidia belong to the genus of Isospora, the most common species are: I. canis and I. ohioensis, which mainly invade and damage the small intestine.
Coccidiosis is often found in puppies less than 6 months, especially between the 4th and 6th week of age and can cause high mortality if not detected and treated early. Adults generally show no symptoms of disease, but can be carriers and contribute to the spread.
Eggs coccidia, called oocysts found in the environment, eliminated through feces of infected animals. Being expelled into the environment lacks the capacity of infestation, being necessary for one to seven days, depending on environmental conditions can be sporulated and become infective, but could survive for weeks or months. High humidity and temperature favor their permanence.
Eggs ingested by puppies reach the intestine where parasitize the cells and this is a location where the rest of the biological cycle, consisting of a 1st asexual stage three generations, one 2nd sexual phase and a 3rd phase sporogonial takes place, which leads to the elimination of oocysts through feces.
Each ingested egg can form hundreds of thousands of intestinal coccidia, and each destroys an intestinal cell.
Symptoms of coccidiosis appear when the number of destroyed cells in the intestine exceeds the dog's ability to recover. Therefore, the severity of the process depends on the amount of ingested of the number of eggs and the immune status of the animal.
If ingestion of oocysts is low and the animal is healthy it eliminates new oocysts while developing immunity to that particular species of coccidia. But if on the other hand, the intake is high in a short time and immunity is low as a result of malnutrition, other diseases, stress ... appears the disease and the clinical picture will be more severe the younger is the puppy.
Common symptoms of coccidiosis in pets include:
• Diarrhea, sometimes bloody and mucus
• Decreased appetite
• Weight loss
• Stunted growth
In severe and recurrent cases occurs death of puppies.
Diagnosis of coccidiosis is performed through coproparasitological analysis in which the presence of oocysts in feces is determined. A negative result may be due to a period of non-expulsion of eggs with feces, so it is recommended to repeat the analysis.
Finally, health and medical prophylaxis of coccidiosis consists of:
• Clean and disinfect the places where our pets are daily.
• Control of rodents and insects.
• Provide clean water available to animals constantly.
• Disinfect feeders, beds, etc.
• Dealing appropriately with coccidia, for example, sulfa antibiotics, plus supportive therapy by protecting the intestinal mucosa, probiotics or plant extracts that stimulate intestinal immunity.