Coccidia (kuh-KOHF-ee-ah) is a common bacterial infection caused by Escherichia coli O157:H7. It affects the respiratory tract causing fever, chills, headache, cough and sometimes vomiting. There are two types of coccidiosis: primary and secondary. Primary coccidiosis occurs when E. coli enters the bloodstream through the lungs and causes symptoms within 24 hours. Secondary coccidiosis occurs after several days without a change in bacteria type. Symptoms may include fever, chills, headache, fatigue and abdominal pain. Both types of coccidiosis can cause severe illness if not treated promptly with antibiotics.
The most common symptom of coccidia is fever (fever plus other signs). Other symptoms include:
Headache or muscle aches
Muscle weakness or tremors (especially in the legs)
Nausea and vomiting (sometimes both at the same time)
If left untreated, these symptoms can lead to pneumonia. If not treated quickly, death may occur. Treatment is simple and effective.
Drinking plenty of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated and taking antibiotics are the best ways to prevent severe symptoms. It can also be prevented by washing your hands frequently, especially before eating and after using the restroom.
There are two forms of coccidia: visceral and somatic. Visceral is found in the intestines and causes bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain. Somatic is found in the lining of the lungs and respiratory tract. The most common symptom of somatic disease is shortness of breath.
Coccidia is a microscopic parasite that lives in the intestines of dogs. It is incredibly common and can be transferred through contact with infected feces. Most of the time coccidia causes no noticeable symptoms in dogs, though it can cause diarrhea and some abdominal pain. A small number of cases progress to a more serious condition, with vomiting and fever. Left untreated, the infection can cause damage to a dog’s vital organs and even death.
The best way to prevent coccidiosis in dogs is to make sure your dog does not come into contact with infected dog feces. It is very important to clean up after your dog every time it goes to the bathroom. If you’re walking your dog, you should also carry plastic bags to clean up any messes it might leave behind. You should also keep your yard clean by frequently removing waste and keeping bushes and grass short. While your dog is playing, make sure that it does not come into contact with other dogs’ feces or places where they might have gone.
If you have other pets in the house, such as cats, you should keep their litter box clean. Most of the time, cats can carry the parasite without showing any symptoms, which means that their feces can still infect your dog.
Unfortunately, dogs are the main carriers and spreaders of this parasite. For this reason, most of the time dogs get infected from other dogs. When an infection does occur, it is usually due to a lack of proper hygiene.
Symptoms of coccidia in dogs can include:
Diarrhea that sometimes has blood in it
If you think your dog might have coccidiosis, you should take it to the veterinarian as soon as possible. They will give your dog medications to kill the parasite. If the infection causes serious damage, your dog might require surgery or other treatments. If the condition becomes life-threatening, they may need to put them on IV fluids and antibiotics.
Most cases of this disease are easy to treat with proper medication and care from a veterinarian. If you think your dog has coccidia or another intestinal parasite, you should take it in for a check-up as soon as you can.
A Note About Humans
Coccidiosis is not contagious to humans. It is only dangerous to dogs, who can catch it from infected dog feces. You should be careful cleaning up your dog’s waste, or your own, if you are pregnant, as the parasite can cause serious complications for a fetus. Make sure that any waste is disposed of properly and that you wash your hands after cleaning up any messes.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Redescription of Neospora caninum and its differentiation from related coccidia (JP Dubey, BC Barr, JR Barta, I Bjerkås… – International journal for …, 2002 – Elsevier)
- Coccidiosis in dogs—100 years of progress (JP Dubey, DS Lindsay – Veterinary parasitology, 2019 – Elsevier)
- Coccidiosis of Chickejis and Turkeys (EE WEHR, MM FARR – naldc.nal.usda.gov)
- The coccidian oocyst: a tough nut to crack! (SI Belli, NC Smith, DJP Ferguson – Trends in parasitology, 2006 – Elsevier)
- The current status of the small subunit rRNA phylogeny of the coccidia (Sporozoa) (DA Morrison, S Bornstein, P Thebo, U Wernery… – International Journal for …, 2004 – Elsevier)
- A review of Cystoisospora felis and C. rivolta-induced coccidiosis in cats (JP Dubey – Veterinary parasitology, 2018 – Elsevier)