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Risk factors for coccidiosis

A study published in 2020 describes the risk factors associated with infection by Eimeria spp. in small ruminants reared in the Northeastern region of Brazil.

Fecal samples (n = 822) were obtained from goats (n = 414) and sheep (n = 408). Oocysts of Eimeria species were detected in 62.9% (517/822) of the animals, with 77.8% (322/414) in goats and 47.8% (195/408) in sheep. While age is considered an important risk factor for infection by Eimeria species, in this study animals of different ages were equally exposed to Eimeria spp.

For goats, the herd size, rearing system, feeding place, absence of mineral salt in the diet, flooring type, and frequency of cleaning were all considered risk factors. Conversely, for sheep only the herd size and rearing system were important factors associated with infection by Eimeria spp.

Intensive and semi-intensive breeding systems, where high population density occurs, contributes to the propagation of coccidia species. Precarious hygiene conditions associated with overcrowding in intensive rearing systems may also result in high levels of infection. Fecal contamination of water and food is important for the transmission of many protozoa.

In goats, the absence of mineral salt in the diet was determined to be a risk factor, as many formulations of mineral salt contain coccidiostatic compounds (e.g., decoquinate and monensin).

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