Coccidiosis in village-scavenging fowls in Eligbo, Rivers State, Nigeria
Free range poultry is a veritable means of creating wealth and sustaining protein availability in the developing world. However, coccidiosis; a parasitic infection affects negatively the productivity of birds in the poultry. Two hundred faecal samples were randomly collected from village scavenging fowls from four villages in Eligbo community in Ahaoda East Local Government Area of Rivers State, Nigeria to determine their coccidiosis status. The sedimentation technique was used to analyse the faecal specimens. Data revealed an overall prevalence of 84(42.0%) with no disparity in the parasite load in both sexes. However, there was variability in the prevalence of Eimeria spp. in fowls from the various villages. This variability (p<0.05, P=0.017385) was associated with geographical specific factors with the Umuokuku village having the highest occurrence 32(16.0%), followed by Umuoho village; 22(11.0%), Umuordu village, 18(9.0%) and Umuokam village recording 12(6.0%). Age-related prevalence showed that the 1-6 weeks aged birds had the highest occurrence 42(50.0%), followed by the 7-16 weeks aged birds; 12(6.0%) while the 16+ weeks aged birds had 19(22.6%). Age related prevalence of Eimeria spp. in the study was statically significant (p<0.05, P = 0.017385). However, the decline in prevalence as age of fowls increased may be due to the build-up of immunity in the birds due to repeated infections under natural conditions. The relatively high prevalence recorded from the stool of the birds did not correspond with expected clinical symptoms at such parasite density. The suppressed morbidity in the birds inspite of relatively high coccidial density and diversity may be due to the foraging of the fowls on anti coccidial herbs in the environment.
Keywords: Eimeria spp., specific factor, morbidity, coccidial density and diversity