The genus Eimeria belongs to Coccidia, and its parasite species reside usually in the intestine of their respective host. They are strictly host-specific and characterized by a monoxenous life cycle. After endogenous development, oocysts are excreted into the environment where they mature into the infective stage. Due to their widespread distribution in populations of many different animal species and because one animal host can be infected by a variety of Eimeria spp., they are considered of great veterinary importance. Mainly poultry, cattle, and sheep industries incur significant economic losses due to eimeriosis. It is important to differentiate between Eimeria spp., since only some are highly pathogenic, while many are nonpathogenic. In farm animals and pets, mainly young animals are affected by a high parasite burden and the intracellular parasite replication results in pathology and the development of eimeriosis as clinical disease. Eimeria destroys host cells during asexual and sexual replication leading to marked tissue damage in susceptible hosts. The infection by intestinal Eimeria spp. is associated with diarrhea, exsiccosis, anorexia, and other symptoms entailing a reduced animal performance as well as cases of death. An Eimeria infection is detected by the demonstration of oocysts in fecal samples and subsequently differentiated based on oocyst morphology. In the case of chicken, the diagnosis is usually confirmed by diagnostic dissections. Currently, control of Eimeria spp. is mainly carried out by hygienic measures such as cleaning and disinfection, general herd health management, and application of pathogen-specific interventions like metaphylactic anticoccidial drug treatment. Currently, Eimeria species-specific vaccination is only available for poultry. Eimeriosis of farm animals is a herd-health issue requiring strategic control measures.


Eimeria Poultry Ruminants Intestine Monoxenous Metaphylaxis Herd Health 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Veterinary Sciences, College of Agriculture and Natural ResourcesUniversity of WyomingLaramieUSA
  2. 2.Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Institute of ParasitologyLeipzig UniversityLeipzigGermany

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