Is Eimeria tenella the only species diagnosed in poultry coccidiosis?

On several occasions in this blog, we have talked about coccidiosis diagnosis, and we recently focused on the lesion scoring technique, which is certainly the most widely used method for diagnosing Eimeria tenella in the field. Let us carry out a brief review of all the posts published on this subject with a view to understanding how to make the most of each technique. 

Oocyst counts & morphological evaluation

Oocysts per gram of faeces (OPG) count and morphological identification are often wrongfully considered the gold standard technique for coccidiosis diagnosis.

Wrongfully because the presence of oocysts cannot be interpreted as an outbreak of coccidiosis, as Eimeria oocysts are ubiquitous.

Therefore, the significance of this finding must be weighed against the level of oocysts/gram first and then other indicators of disease, such as the presence of clinical signs in live animals, as well as macro- and microscopic lesions in the intestine at necropsy.

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What should we ask of a vaccine against Eimeria?

The need for prevention against this disease is as old as coccidiosis itself in poultry farming. It has been some time since the first vaccines were developed and fortunately innovations have been incorporated into the production process which have meant that prevention against Eimeria is now safer, more effective and longer-lasting.

 

The first vaccine against coccidiosis in poultry farming was developed in 1952.

At that time, the product contained only a single, non-attenuated species of Eimeria (Eimeria tenella). In 1974, Dr. Jeffers and his colleagues published their discovery of the precocious lines, thereby revealing the method of attenuation by precociousness.

However, for various reasons, the first vaccine containing Eimeria species attenuated by precociousness was not marketed until 1989 (Williams, 2002).

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Eimeria species involved in avian coccidiosis: Who claims 7 and who claims 9?

Avian coccidiosis is a costly intestinal disease caused by parasites of the Phylum Apicomplexa, genus Eimeria, which frequently affect poultry. Apart from the three best known Eimeria spp. (Eimeria acervulina, Eimeria maxima and Eimeria tenella), other species can also affect chickens, and their appearance is mostly related to the category of birds under consideration: long or short-lived birds. In this post we will review the most important posts published so far on this subject and we will try to shatter a myth: do Eimeria mivati and Eimeria hagani really exist?

Eimeria tenella grade 4 lesion: caecal wall greatly distended with blood or large caseous cores; faecal debris lacking or included in cores (according to Johnson and Reid, 1970).

Chickens are susceptible to seven Eimeria species: Eimeria acervulina, Eimeria brunetti, Eimeria maxima, Eimeria mitis, Eimeria necatrix, Eimeria praecox and Eimeria tenella. Very often this is the start of many articles about coccidiosis, however many argue that another two species should be included in this list.

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Coccidiosis in chickens is a Gut Health issue: Benefits of combining vaccines & probiotics (Part I)

When we talk about coccidiosis in chickens, we should not forget to mention gut health, as whatever provokes a disruption of gut balance can also influence this disease or the other way around. In view of this strict interconnection and taking into account the fact that optimal gut health represents the basis for the ever-increasing need to reduce antibiotic & anticoccidial use, it is easy to understand that nowadays the “Silver Bullet” would be to find the perfect combination between coccidiosis vaccines & feed additives intended to maintain gut balance, such as probiotics. This combination should guarantee the best coccidiosis prevention through vaccines, together with optimal gut health and competitive productive results.

Before evaluating whether the combination of vaccines for coccidiosis in chickens plus probiotics is beneficial from the intestinal health point of view, we had to investigate the possibility of administering EVALON® and HIPRACOX® vaccines, each together with a different probiotic, using Hipraspray®.

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Lesion scoring technique for Eimeria in chickens: An indicator for successful diagnosis.

When talking about the diagnosis of Eimeria in chickens, most people think of the oocyst count (OPG) and now PCR as the gold standard methods for obtaining the most accurate diagnosis. This is partly true, however it is very important to remember that the earliest diagnosis is still only possible with the classical lesion scoring technique implemented in 1970 by Johnson & Reid. Some factors can affect the lesion scoring method and should therefore be taken into consideration: proper selection of birds, careful necropsy procedure and accurate training for lesion identification.

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Coccidiosis in poultry does not only come from Eimeria tenella and has started to affect more and more laying hens.

Eimeria tenella is by far the most widely detected species on farms when routine lesion scoring is performed. However, it is well known that most of the time Eimeria infections are multiple. On the other hand, during last decade the egg sector has probably undergone the biggest changes, with an ever-increasing percentage of cage-free laying hens, especially in Europe. 

Generally in layers and breeders we distinguish between caecal and intestinal coccidiosis. Caecal coccidiosis is due to Eimeria tenella  that is confined to the caecum and consists of the presence of hemorrhages on the outside or inside of the wall of the caecum.

This acute infection occurs most commonly in young chicks and is by far the most widely diagnosed in the field due to its typical lesions and location. For this reason, a common belief is that Eimeria tenella is the most prevalent all over the globe. In fact, macroscopic lesions are amongst the most pathognomonic with blood or typical molds in the caecum and common findings of bloody droppings in the litter.

Eimeria tenella lesion, coccidiosis in poultry
A common belief is that Eimeria tenella is the most prevalent all over the globe.

Continue reading Coccidiosis in poultry does not only come from Eimeria tenella and has started to affect more and more laying hens.

What if a device for the administration of vaccines against coccidiosis in chickens were to offer even more?

Some time ago, HIPRA took an important strategic decision: to develop and manufacture its own medical devices for the most correct administration of its vaccines. Coccidiosis in chickens is one of HIPRA’s strategic areas where it has recently launched a new and innovative coccidiosis vaccine, EVALON®. For this reason, the development of Hipraspray® was a natural consequence and is now a reality.

In terms of prevention against coccidiosis in chickens, Hipraspray® represents a turning point and a major leap forward in the use of vaccination devices.

With this system, HIPRA offers a high performance vaccination device specifically designed to ensure maximum efficacy of its EVALON® and Hipracox® products. In addition, HIPRA brings benefit to both the hatchery and the final producer.

Smart Vaccination against eimeria and coccidiosis in poultry
HIPRA has enhanced its corporate strategy to overcome both current and future challenges. HIPRA is the first company to have digitised the animal health vaccination process, through Smart Vaccination.

In light of the desperate need for parameter optimisation in the livestock farming industry, HIPRA has emerged as the leader in the traceability of vaccination processes.

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Comparison between attenuated and non-attenuated Eimeria vaccines. What is the difference?

Eimeria vaccines for poultry are mainly composed of live oocysts. Concerns about the safety of coccidiosis vaccines have been raised by field users. This study compares the safety parameters of commercial non-attenuated and attenuated Eimeria vaccines with EVALON®, a live attenuated coccidiosis vaccine for breeders and layers.

Most of the Eimeria vaccines available for chickens consist of live parasites that need to undergo two and sometimes three entire life cycles inside the host gut in order to trigger the immune system and subsequently establish a full protective immunity.

On the market, there are live non-attenuated and attenuated vaccines. Live non-attenuated vaccines consist of parasites that still maintain their natural virulence.

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Big Data: Increasing benefits in the poultry industry by improving coccidiosis vaccination

Big data are already being used to improve operational efficiency, and the ability to make informed decisions based on the very latest up-to-the-moment information is rapidly becoming the mainstream norm. Companies that fail to adapt do so at their own competitive and market risk, and this is also true for farm and hatchery management. But, what about its use for controlling coccidiosis in poultry by vaccination?

In the next post we present 2 different practical-use cases in which companies have successfully used analytics to deliver extraordinary results. In poultry farming we are at the beginning of the big data revolution. But much more needs to be done and taken into account for the future.

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Anticoccidial Eimeria vaccines for poultry: where are we coming from and what is next? (Part II)

Live Eimeria vaccines have been widely used in poultry for more than 50 years now and we already described the differences among each other in a previous post (Part I). Since the 80s, attempts to develop next-generation recombinant coccidiosis vaccines have led to the identification of several candidate antigens (Blake et al. 2017). In spite of this, no recombinant Eimeria vaccine has been brought to market so far. So has anything new come to market since the 1950’s?

The reality is that nothing more than classic live Eimeria vaccines has been developed since the 1950s when the first coccidiosis vaccine reached the market. At first glance, if we think about all the other vaccines that have been brought to market in the meantime – both viral and bacterial -, and given that recombinant vaccines have been available for almost a decade now, it seems that research in the field of Eimeria vaccines has failed to keep pace.

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