Coccidiosis is an internal parasite rather than a bacterial disease, but because the clinical signs are so similar to other digestive tract diseases, it is included within this section. Coccidiosis is a proliferation of the protozoa Eimeria spp. in the gut. The coccidia cover the entire gut wall, preventing absorption of nutrients and producing a toxin. Coccidia are host specific, meaning that cattle coccidia are not infective to sheep or goats and visa versa. There are several thousand species of Eimeria so laboratory reports will always report them lumped together. Any oocyst count above 300epg (eggs per gram) should be considered a warning flag even though any Diagnostic Lab will indicate that 300epg is a low incidence not worthy of action. Onset of the clinical sign, chronic wasting can occur with or without diarrhea, and is due to stress. All goats carry Eimeria spp. as part of their natural gut flora. Some immunity to coccidiosis can be induced when kid goats are exposed to their mother’s feces but during severe outbreaks, all animals are likely to be affected.
Treatment is best done using an oral coccidiostat such as aprolium administered in the drinking water.
Prevention can be attained by using a coccidiostat during or just previous to times of stress such as weaning, kidding or shearing. Care must be taken to not develop resistance to the disease by maladministering the coccidiostat. Follow the directions carefully. One good preventative medicine, Rumensin works well in goats but is lethal to horses, so watch out. Vaccines, while promising, are not yet available.