Protozoan Parasites

Poultry diagnostic laboratories are located throughout Florida to assist in the diagnosis of poultry diseases (see A Guide to Commercial Poultry Production in Florida). A brief description of the more common diseases is provided to familiarize county Extension personnel with these diseases.


Cause: A protozoan parasite. Chiefly a disease of turkeys but it also can be a problem in chickens, waterfowls, quails, and other birds.
Symptoms: General weakness, unthriftiness, sulfur colored droppings. Characteristic lesions are round, yellow ulcer-like depressed areas on the liver and enlarged, thickened, and distended ulcerated ceca filled with a thick cheesy mass. Mortality may be high.
Treatment: Ipropran in feed.
Control: Good management and sanitation. Keep turkeys away from chickens.


Cause: A protozoan parasite, coccidiosis infect the intestine and ceca or blind pouches. Several species are recognized and are site specific within the intestine. Spread in contaminated feed and water, by introducing infected chickens to the flock, by people or contaminated equipment introducing the organism. Coccidia must sporulate to become infective. Under optimum conditions of moisture, temperature and oxygen they sporulate and become infective for the next chicken.
Symptoms: The main symptom of coccidiosis is diarrhea. Acute intestinal coccidiosis results in unthriftiness, diarrhea and considerable mortality. In chronic coccidiosis. nutritional deficiencies and secondary conditions often develop.
Treatment: Many drugs are available.
Control: Use of a coccidiostat in the feed. Good management and sanitation. Raising and growing chickens on wire.

* From Diseases of Poultry, a paper by Dr. Gary D. Butcher, DVM, PhD., Poultry Veterinarian, College of Veterinary Medicine, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville. From publication PS-5, Florida Cooperative Extension Service. .

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