Coccidiosis is a parasitic infection that can multiply in the intestinal tract of animals. It is a disease that affects a wide range of animals, including humans, but especially young piglets. It mostly spreads by feces and contact with infected animals. Piglets that are up to 15 weeks of age are the most vulnerable. Although death from coccidiosis is avoidable, piglets can perish from this outbreak if not given proper medical treatment.
Even though coccidiosis is deadlier for younger pigs, boars and sows can be infected when exposed to the eggs. The primary symptom will be discolored feces that takes on a yellow, green, or bloody texture, but it all depends on the level of infection. Diarrhea usually shows in the early stage, but another notable symptom will be dehydration.
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The diarrhea stems from damage of the intestinal walls, which also results in bacterial and viral infections that can lead to death. Coccidiosis itself is not the fatal catalyst, but the germs and viruses that it fosters can lead to high mortality rates.
Coccidiosis begin as tiny eggs (oocysts) that can be ingested by pigs in an outside environment. Pigs can also expel these eggs through defecation. They are very hard to kill when in the elements, and they need a temperature of anywhere between 77-95 degrees to thrive. Once expelled, they begin to sporulate, where they can get into food and water.
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There are a variety of cleaning solutions on the market, but one of the most effective disinfectants would be Antec. They can survive outside of an animal for multiple months.
Once they are ingested, they complete their cycle, usually within 5-10 days. They attach themselves to the intestinal lining of the pig, and this is where complications can begin. Piglets usually do not show symptoms until around five days of age.
The good news is that the piglets usually do not pass on the eggs in their feces until 3-4 days after the pig has displayed irregular bowel movements. If the disease is dealt with during that time frame, then the pig stands a chance of survival without spreading the disease to other pigs. However, post-cleaning measures should be taken after a pig has been treated.
Methods of treatment vary, but the damage is already done once symptoms begin to show. The pig will have to fight off the infection with its immune symptom. Giving your piglets electrolytes will aid the pig in combating the illness, and it will help in preventing dehydration.
Clinical treatment can come in the form of toltrazuril, with the dosage contingent upon the weight of the individual pig. For multiple piglets, medication can also be placed in the feed, amprolium premix or sulphadimidine. Salinomycin and amprolium can be mixed in with powdered milk as well. However, any medication given should be given after consultation with a vet.
Treatment will help, but prevention is key. Sows are the primary carriers, which often results from exposure to feces, and spreading to the piglets when lactating. This is why it is important to keep pens and farrowing houses sanitized and clean at all times. Some breeders will also treat sows before pregnancy.
Insect control is also paramount, since flies can be carriers and spreaders of the parasite. Clear the area of any dust as well to prevent airborne infections. Keep areas dry and use Antec for further disinfecting. If contending with a wet area, use dry shavings to cover the floors, but remove daily. Separate any sick, and keep them in quarters that are warm and dry.
As with any illness, your piglet stands a chance of survival if caught early. The most important factor is maintaining cleanliness at all times.