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Int J Parasitol. 1998 Jul;28(7):1131-40.

Dietary modulation of avian coccidiosis.

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USDA/ARS, Livestock and Poultry Sciences Institute, Parasite Biology and Epidemiology Laboratory, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA.


During the past several years, our laboratory has been investigating the anticoccidial activities of various natural products that have potential use as dietary supplements for coccidiosis control. Sources of fats containing high concentrations of n-3 fatty acids such as menhaden oil and flaxseed oil and flaxseed, when added to starter rations and fed to chicks from one day of age, effectively reduce lesions caused by the caecal parasite Eimeria tenella, but not lesions caused by Eimeria maxima. Our results are consistent with reports of effects of diets high in n-3 fatty acids on other protozoan parasites which suggest that the state of oxidative stress induced by these diets in the cells of both host and parasites is responsible for their parasitic actions. Artemisinin, a naturally occurring (Artemisia annua) endoperoxide and effective antimalarial significantly lowers lesions from E. tenella when given at low levels as a feed additive. The mechanism of its action is also considered to involve induction of oxidative stress. Diets supplemented with 8 p.p.m. gamma-tocopherol (abundant in flaxseeds) or with 1% of the spice tumeric, reduce mid-small intestinal lesion scores and improve weight gains during E. maxima infections. These compounds may exert their anticoccidial activity because they are effective antioxidants. Betaine, a choline analogue found in high concentrations in sugar beets, improves nutrient utilisation by animals under stress. When provided as a dietary supplement at a level of 0.15% it has enhanced the anticoccidial activity of the ionophore, salinomycin. Betaine may act as an osmoprotectant whereby it improves the integrity and function of the infected intestinal mucosa. In in vivo studies, betaine plus salinomycin significantly inhibit invasion of both E. tenella and E. acervulina. However, subsequent development of E. acervulina is inhibited more effectively with this combination treatment than development of E. tenella.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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