Coccidiosis is caused by a one cellular protozoon called Eimeria
Coccidiosis is one of the classical carrier diseases. In many cases, especially in adult pigeons, no apparent symptoms are seen when pigeons are infected. The racing performance of pigeons is however affected with pigeons becoming less competitive and refusing to train around the loft. In babies and pigeons under severe stress or suffering from other diseases mild to severe enteritis with loose stools are sometimes seen. Babies may loose weight and become stunted in their growth. Coccidiosis predisposes pigeons to many other diseases.
Faecal flotation reveals the typical small coccidian “eggs” called oocysts. These oocysts are much smaller than worm eggs.
Treatment is usually only carried out when the flotation reveals an increased oocyst shedding. Routine treatment every four to six weeks during the racing season is recommended when tests cannot be done. It is best to alternate treatments by using new generation Suphonamides such as Suphadimethoxine with Diclazuril or Toltrazuril. Sulphonamides may be combined with Trimethoprim to also make it effective against Salmonella and E coli.
Toltrazuril is currently the treatment of choice as it is not absorbed and works in the intestine where the Coccidia resides Amprolium will only suppress Coccidia and is not recommended.