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Better Coccidiosis Control

by 5m Editor
23 February 2010, at 5:35a.m.

NETHERLANDS - Herman Peek of the University of Utrecht reports that vaccination is a more effective way to control coccidiosis than drugs, and that vaccination may be made cheaper in future by making use of cross-protection between some Eimeria species.

Herman Peek from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Utrecht defended his thesis entitled Resistance to anticoccidial drugs: alternative strategies to control coccidiosis in broilers at the University last week.

Coccidiosis is a common disease among poultry, caused by a parasite that primarily affects the intestines. For poultry farmers, the disease can result in significant economic losses due to reduced feed conversion efficiency as well as slower growth, increased mortality rates and the costs of prevention and treatment. Around the world, coccidiosis costs more than €2 billion each year. Prevention of the spread of the disease among broilers is primarily based on hygiene measures and adding anti-coccidiosis drugs to feed or drinking water.

In his doctoral research at the University of Utrecht, Herman Peek showed that the parasite is often resistant to these anticoccidial drugs on Dutch, German and Spanish poultry farms. This factor, combined with new legislation, has increased the demand for alternative measures for preventing and limiting the spread of the coccidia parasites.

Vaccination has proven to be a very effective strategy against coccidiosis, and Mr Peek's research has also shown that there is a relationship between vaccination with parasites that are sensitive to anti-coccidiosis drugs and a reduction in the number of resistant parasites at the farm.

His research into three alternative products – ibuprofen, protease and a prebiotic – revealed that they have limited anticoccidial effects. These products therefore cannot be considered as effective alternatives to current treatments.

Continued studies into improved vaccines have shown that three different types of parasites (Eimeria acervulina, E. tenella and E. maxima) provide some degree of cross-protection against E. acervulina and E. tenella. This knowledge may eventually lead to the production of coccidiosis vaccines that are less expensive and more effective, concluded Mr Peek.

Further Reading

- Find out more information on coccidiosis by clicking here.