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Milestones in Avian Coccidiosis Research: A Review

01 March 2014

Poultry Science journal

This article, by Professor David Chapman of the University of Arkansas, describes some of the milestones in research concerned with protozoan parasites of the genus Eimeria that infect birds and cause the disease coccidiosis.

In his paper, published in the current issue of Poultry Science, Dr Chapman starts his review in 1891, when oocysts were first found in the caeca of diseased chickens, and he takes the reader up to the present.

Progress in our understanding has lagged behind that of other protozoan parasites such as Toxoplasma and Plasmodium despite the enormous importance of Eimeria to animal livestock production, he contends. Nevertheless, applied research by universities, government agencies and private industry has resulted in the successful development of methods of control, research that continues today.

The topics covered and the references provided in the paper, according to the author, are selective and include life cycles and biology, pathology, ultrastructure, biochemistry, immunity, genetics, host cell invasion, species identification, taxonomy, chemotherapy, vaccination and literature concerned with avian coccidiosis.

This review is primarily concerned with the avian species of Eimeria that infect poultry but Dr Chapman also covers some important advances, principally in immunology, that have been made using species that infect rodents and rabbits; these are included where appropriate.

In his conclusion, Dr Chapman writes that the resilience of the Eimeria oocyst and its ubiquitous presence wherever poultry are reared provides a continuing threat to the health of poultry, and therefore there will be a continued need for basic and applied research into all aspects of the biology of these organisms.

The recent completion of the genome sequence of all species that infect the fowl holds out great promise for improved control in the future, he added.


Chapman H.D. 2014. Milestones in avian coccidiosis research: A review. Poultry Science. 93(3):501-511. doi: 10.3382/ps.2013-03634

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.
Find out more about coccidiosis by clicking here.

March 2014

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