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Farm Animal Practice
Diagnosis and control of coccidiosis in sheep
  1. Mike Taylor

    Mike Taylor qualified from Glasgow University in 1976 and then spent six years in general practice before joining the State Veterinary Service. In 1984 he joined the Parasitology Department at the Central Veterinary Laboratory, and in 1989 obtained a PhD in veterinary parasitology from London University. He is currently head of parasitology at the CVL and honorary lecturer in parasitology at the Royal Veterinary College. His special interests include epidemiology and control of gastrointestinal helminth and protozoal parasites, drug resistance, parasite pathology and parasite zoonoses.


Coccidiosis is a frequently diagnosed, but often misunderstood, parasitic infection in sheep. Most sheep are infected with coccidia during their lives but in the majority of animals the parasites cause little or no damage. Disease only occurs if animals are subjected to heavy infections, or if their resistance is lowered. It is, therefore, important to differentiate between infection and disease, as the presence of coccidia does not invariably lead to the development of clinical signs of disease. Indeed, trials have demonstrated that low levels of challenge can be beneficial by stimulating protective immune responses in the host.

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