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Coccidia

Coccidia are microscopic one-celled organisms that live and reproduce within the cells that line the intestinal tract of your alpaca. It is one of the alpaca and llama diseases that you should monitor, as it can affect your herd -- especially young crias. Severe cases cause ball stools and eventually runny feces.

Corid and amprolium are used to treat coccidia are treated with Corid and amprolium. Coccidia emeria, whick are microscopic parasites found most often in alpacas and llamas between 4 weeks and 2 years of age. Coccidia are not worms, so you cannot visually see them, except with a microscope. However there are visual clues in the poop that may indicate the presence of coccidia.

How are coccidia transmitted?

Coccidia are transmitted to other alpacas by infected feces. So it is important to maintain an on-going poop clean-up routine. Collect and remove poop from the pasture to a compost pile outside of where your herd grazes.

What are the symptoms?

Normal bean poop
poop

Ball stool
poop

A ball stool rather than pellets is often the first sign. Diarrhea is a symptom of more advanced stages. When an alpacas immune system is weakened, it is unable to keep coccidia in check and the organism increases its reproduction. The increased amount of coccidia cause the cells lining the intestine to rupture. When large numbers of the cells are destroyed, you will see diarrhea and dehydration. Appetite loss is possible. If the infection is severe, you may see bloody diarrhea.

Are all my alpacas at risk?

While a coccidia infection may be seen in adult alpacas, younger alpacas are more at risk. A healthy alpaca keeps coccidia in check with it's own immune system. Young alpacas whose immune system is not fully developed, alpacas with poor nutrition, stressed alpacas, or alpacas that have other diseases can all be suseptible to coccidiosis.

How is coccidosis treated?

First take a stool sample to your vet for a fecal exam to confirm the presence of coccidia. Amprolium (brandname=Corrid) is commonly used as a treatment and to prevent this parasite. Corrid is mixed into the drinking water for 5 days. This medication does not kill this organism. It inhibits the reproduction of coccidia. By stopping reproduction, the alpacas own immune system is allowed to develop and take care of the infection. The whole herd needs to be treated.

Can coccidosis be fatal?

Yes, it can be fatal--especially in crias. It can take as little as 24 hours if the infection is severe. Coccidiosis presents a danger of dehydration as well as debilitation that can lead to death. Do not hesitate to contact your Vet at the first signs of diarrhea and keep Corrid on hand.

Can I get rid of Coccidia?

Once your herd is infected, coccidia is almost impossible to get rid of. You must manage the problem. You can treat your herd twice a year, or you can treat only when there is a problem. Consult with your Vet to decide which is best for your farm. Coccidiosis can cause death but it is treatable and can be managed if your herd becomes infected.

This page was last updated on June 9, 2009.

Able Oaks Ranch 6167 FM1857 S. Rusk TX 75785 | 903-530-1009