Issue Description Coccidiosis is the disease caused by coccidian
infection. Coccidiosis is a parasitic disease of the intestinal tract
of animals, caused by coccidian protozoa. The disease spreads from one
animal to another by contact with infected feces, or ingestion of
infected tissue. Diarrhea, which may become bloody in severe cases, is
the primary symptom. Most animals infected with coccidia are
asymptomatic; however, young or immuno-compromised animals may suffer
severe symptoms, including death.
People often first
encounter coccidia when they acquire a young puppy who is infected.
The infectious organisms are canine/feline-specific and are not
contagious to humans.
Young puppies are frequently infected
with coccidia and often develop active Coccidiosis -- even puppies
obtained from diligent professional breeders. Infected puppies almost
always have received the parasite from their mother's feces.
Typically, healthy adult animals shedding the parasite's oocysts in
their feces will be asymptomatic because of their developed immune
systems. However, undeveloped immune systems make puppies more
susceptible. Further, stressors such as new owners, travel, weather
changes, and unsanitary conditions are believed to activate infections
in susceptible animals.
Symptoms Symptoms in young dogs are universal: at some
point around 2-3 months of age, an infected dog develops persistently
loose stools. This diarrhea proceeds to stool containing liquid, thick
mucus, and light colored fecal matter. As the infection progresses,
spots of blood may become apparent in the stool, and sudden bowel
movements may surprise both dog and owner alike. Coccidia infection is
so common that any pup under 4 months old with these symptoms can
almost surely be assumed to have coccidiosis.
Treatment Fortunately, the treatment is inexpensive,
extremely effective, and routine. A veterinarian can easily diagnose
the disease through low-powered microscopic examination of an affected
dog's feces, which usually will be replete with oocysts. One of many
easily administered and inexpensive drugs will be prescribed, and, in
the course of just a few days, an infection will be eliminated or
perhaps reduced to such a level that the dog's immune system can make
its own progress against the infection. Even when an infection has
progressed sufficiently that blood is present in feces, permanent
damage to the gastrointestinal system is rare, and the dog will most
likely make a complete recovery without long-lasting negative effects.
If one dog of a litter has coccidiosis, then most certainly all dogs
at a breeder's kennels have active coccidia infections. Breeders
should be notified if a newly-acquired pup is discovered to be
infected with coccidia. Breeders can take steps to eradicate the
organism from their kennels, including applying medications in bulk to
an entire facility.