Pfiou, those last few weeks have been hectic ! I however always kept in mind that I had to finish writing the last blog on coccidia infection in kennels and catteries. So today, I dedicated a time-slot to do just this : put into writing the last chapter of this series ! If you missed the first two blogs, don’t worry : they are available here, just click on the links Part I & Part II
Without further ado then, let’s dig in what breeders need to know to prevent coccidia infection in kennels and catteries !
#1 Coccidia infection tends to be a problem in unsanitary environments. Key words here : SANITATION, HYGIENE, CLEANING, DISINFECTING. These concepts are critical in kennels and catteries. And unfortunately, often overlooked. To avoid mistakes, a fundamental concept to understand is the difference between CLEANING & DISINFECTING : read more about it here.
#2 To further highlight this point : experimental studies have shown that diarrhea is uncommon unless large numbers of oocysts (remember, the resistant form excreted by affected dogs and cats in the environment) are absorbed by very young or immunusuppressed individuals.
#3 Coccidia cysts need to spend a certain amount of time in the environment (it might vary depending on temperature and humidity, but typically 5-8 days) before turning infectant. An easy tip to break the cycle ? On a daily basis, scoop the poop. That is definitely the cornerstone of your kennel / cattery protection plan !
#4 Picking up the stools is always the first step of the cleaning - disinfecting protocol. However, it should not stop here. After that, cleaning - you probably don’t see it, but there are things remaining ! - and THEN disinfecting will also need to be performed.
#5 And here is something important to know : coccidia cysts are TOUGH. Many « classic » disinfectants (like bleach & quaternary ammoniums) will NOT be efficient. Check our table here.
#6 We just wrote it : bleach - often used for disinfection in kennels and catteries - is not efficient to destroy coccidia cysts. But it’s even worse… There are some evidence that bleach can accelerate the sporulation time of the coccidia cysts (understand they become infectant faster than expected). That is why in case of confirmed coccidia infection, it is ALWAYS important to revisit the sanitation protocole of your structure.
#7 What can we use then to destroy coccidia cysts these days ? Our recommended option : steam cleaning. Above +70 °C, coccidia cysts will rupture. Water that comes out of many steam cleaners is around +220 °C. By the way, it will also be efficient for other protozoan cysts, like Giardia or Cryptosporidium.
#8 Runs, cage, food ustensils and other implements should be disinfected by steam cleaning. In fact, anything that is soiled by organic matter should be disinfected.
#9 Infections are frequently found in catteries or kennels where animals congregate. The solution ? SECTORIZATION ! Do not mix all your animals together and try to separate them according to their specific lifestage. Kittens and puppies around weaning, which are particularily at risk, should not be mixed with animals from other physiological stages.
#10 Insect control is essential in animal quarters and food storage areas because cockroaches and flies may serve as mechanical vectors of oocysts. Same thing applies to rodents’ control : cats and dogs are indeed infected by ingestion of sporulated oocysts, but also by the consumption of transport hosts (often rodents).
#11 Coccidia cysts are resistant in the outside environment… which means that dogs and cats can also carry them on their coats ! This is a potential source of recontamination ! In affected kennels, bathing the dogs on a weekly basis to mechanically remove the cysts is a measure we often recommend. In catteries, the same can be attempted… providing the cats are ok to cooperate !
#12 A very useful prevention measure : monitor parasite circulation inside your structure. Once or twice a year, with the help of your veterinarian, perform a pooled fecal analysis (= stools from different types of individuals - puppies/kittens ; adults ; pregnant mothers- are collected, mixed and analyzed). The results will indicate to your veterinarian if there is a need or not to revisit your deworming protocol.
#13 You know that we do not discuss medical treatment in our blogs (those are information I can only share directly with your veterinarian). However there is one thing you need to know : coccidia infection requires a SPECIFIC medical treatment. Classic wormers will be inefficient.
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