The present study was designed to investigate the prevalence of the pathogenic coccidia species E. bovis and E. zuernii in shed-reared animals in German dairy and fattening facilities.
Samples were obtained from 65 cattle farms distributed randomly across all the regions of Germany, regardless of the occurrence of clinical problems. The samples were obtained rectally. Faecal consistency and the total number of oocysts per gram of faeces (OPG) were determined for Eimeria spp., along with the separate OPG values for Eimeria (E.) bovis and E. zuernii. A questionnaire was completed for each farm to record information about herd size and management together with individual animal data.
Eimeria oocysts, regardless of the kind of Eimeria spp., were detected in 62 of these farms, which gives a prevalence of 95.4 %. The farm prevalence of the pathogenic species was 76.9 % for E. bovis and 83.1 % for E. zuernii. The average oocyst excretion level was 2,950 OPG in terms of total Eimeria spp. oocyst excretion, 700 OPG for E. bovis and 1,500 OPG for E. zuernii.
The number of oocysts excreted could not be correlated significantly with farm type or farm management but depended on the floor type which influences the infection pressure, on the age of the calves and the time after rehousing. In general, higher oocyst excretion rates were found in calves kept on litter compared to rearing on slatted floor. Younger calves and calves sampled early after housing shed higher amounts of oocysts than older calves and calves stabled a longer period before sampling, respectively. Furthermore, there was a positive correlation between OPG and the observation of diarrhoea, defined as observation of a loose to liquid faecal consistency. Excretion of E. zuernii oocysts was more closely linked to the occurrence of diarrhoea than E. bovis oocyst excretion. This study confirms that the pathogenic coccidia E. bovis and E. zuernii are ubiquitous in German cattle populations and a significant cause of diarrhoeal disease in calf rearing.
Farm Type Coccidiosis Toltrazuril Eimeria Species Oocyst Excretion
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