Egg Counts and Coccidians – Controlling Coccidiosis in Cattle and Sheep

Egg Counts and Coccidians – Controlling Coccidiosis in Cattle and Sheep

Coccidiosis is an intestinal disease caused by single-celled coccidian parasites. Though there are several species of coccidian protozoa, all must get inside the cells lining the intestines of their host to reproduce.

Coccidians spread when their eggs (oocysts) shed with their host’s faeces contaminating the food of other potential hosts. Mainly associated with poultry, infected birds suffer enteritis with blood stained diarrhoea, becoming lethargic, anaemic and showing a generally degraded condition.

Distinguishing between coccidiosis and similar symptoms

Poultry coccidians don’t infect farm mammals, nor do the cow and sheep equivalents infect chickens and waterfowl. In birds, veterinary microscopy of tissue from the characteristically swollen intestines of confirms coccidian infection. In sheep and cows, distinguishing between coccidiosis and similar symptoms of colibacilliosis, cryptospiridiosis, coronovirus, rotavirus and bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) can require further veterinary laboratory investigation.

Veterinary diagnostic kits equip busy vets with a fast and reliable answer to the question of which parasite is responsible for the observed symptoms. Vetlab’s FASTest kits provide accurate, early diagnosis even in the field allowing treatment and preventative measures to begin immediately.

Using histological staining techniques

Where coccidiosis is indicated, faecal oocyst counts can give an estimate of the level of infection. Faecal egg count flotation solutions, Ovatube detection kits and smooth, quiet veterinary centrifuges make oocyst recovery quick and clean. Veterinary microscopes and histological staining techniques support the quantitation and identification of particular coccidian species.

In recent years, histological and egg count surveys have estimated the coccidian infection rate of cattle to be about 20%. However, not all species of coccidians cause disease, and a heavy oocyte burden doesn’t always indicate a clinically significant infection.

The risk is especially high where many animals are confined

Sever coccidiosis in calves and lambs can result in life-threatening dehydration. Infection usually follows from ingestion of oocyte-infected faeces or contaminated food. The risk is especially high where many animals are confined in faeces-soiled enclosures or where young animals are grazed on land contaminated by material from hosting adults.

The exception to coccidian species specificity is Toxoplasma gondii. T.gondii reaches maturity and reproduces only in cats, where it causes more serious symptoms. Toxoplasmosis only rarely causes illness in humans and generally only in immunologically weakened dogs.

T.gondii oocysts in faeces from roaming cats can initiate abortion or foetal reabsorption in sheep. The veterinary response to this commercial risk includes vaccination, husbandry and animal-health expertise with quick detection and diagnosis with the FASTest Toxoplasmosis g diagnostic kit.

To find out more about our large range of veterinary diagnostic test kits visit our website: or Telephone: 01798 874567

COVID-19 Update

As the impact of COVID-19, is being felt around the world, the well-being of our employees and their families is of the highest importance to us.

By putting the safety of our employees first, we have reduced our on-site staff to a minimum and we will endeavour to maintain our business operations to the highest standard possible.

We are carefully monitoring and following official guidance from the UK Government, Public Health England, WHO and CDC guidelines and in line with these; we are currently operating business as usual.

We are monitoring our stock levels on a daily basis ensuring a fair distribution of our products. We are fully committed to maintaining the supply of products during these unprecedented times.

We are open for orders from Monday through to Thursday and closing on Fridays:

Friday Closure:  For any technical queries, orders or enquiries please do one of the following:
• Email:
• Fax: 01798 874787
• Telephone & leave a message: 01798 874567

We will endeavour to contact you on Friday and Monday if it is non-urgent.

If you require any further information, please contact Vetlab Supplies Ltd Customer Services on 01798 874567 or email

Thank you to all our customers and suppliers for their support during these temporary measures.

Stay Safe