Coccidiosis is a realistic problem and one of the most important diseases of poultry worldwide. The disease is considered as one of the most severe health and economical problems in poultry that causes an enormous loss to poultry producers worldwide. It is caused by a protozoan parasite known as Eimeria that invade the cells of the poultry intestine. Species of coccidia which commonly affect poultry are Eimeria tenella, E. acervulina, E. necatrix, E. maxima, E. Mivati and E. brunetti. The disease is characterized by enteritis, bloody diarrhoea and mortality. The bird develops a disability to absorb nutrients, which results in weight loss and eventually death. Subclinically, it is manifested by poor performance, impaired feed conversion, poor flock uniformity, drop in egg production and poor growth. Coccidia can also damage the immune system and leave poultry more vulnerable to pathogens like Clostridium, Salmonella and E. coli.

Anticoccidial Drugs

The ionophores (monensin, salinomycin and semduramicin) form complexes with various ions, principally Na+, K+, and Ca2+, and transport these into and through biological membranes. Following complexing, the branched alkyl groups are spread over the molecular surface, rendering the compound highly lipid soluble. As a result the complex can facilitate the transport of cations through cell membranes of the target organisms (protozoa and gram-positive bacteria). This facilitated transport of ions across the cell membrane results in an increase in intracellular calcium to toxic levels. In coccidia, which do not have osmoregulatory organelles, the osmotic balance of the cell is disrupted resulting in ingress of water and vacuolisation of the cell. Cell death is the result of the increased intracellular pressure destroying cellular structures and eventually bursting the cell. The ionophores affect both extra- and intracellular stages of the parasite, especially during the early, asexual stages of parasite development.

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