Message Number: YG747 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Dr. Bruce Williams
Date: 2001-03-05 17:39:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Coccidiosis

> Dr. Karen wrote:
> > Coccidiosis is generally spread due to poor sanitation at the
> > breeder/distributer/household. It is picked up from the
> > and is generally more common in young or health compromised
(Then somebody else wrote:)

Some of my ferrets had coccidiosis. However, they were not kept in
> conditions, nor were they having diarrhea. Is that possible?

Sure is. While the majority of the outbreaks that we see are due to
someone cleaninga l the cages at once, using the same bucket of soapy
water and a rag to go from cage to cage, occasionally we see
outbreaks in which good husbandry is practice. Coccidial oocysts
(the egg form) are resistant to drying, and can live for days in a
tiny bit of poop that even the pickiest person might miss. They do
require ingestion for passage though.

Now there is another possibility, which we should talk about.
Occasionally, coccidia is misdiagnosed by the vet (a hush falls over
the crowd.) Yes there are other things that hand around in poop that
can be mistaken for coccidia. The #1 thing is yeast. Yeasts are
generally significantly smaller, but I have seen them be misdiagnosed
as coccidia, or even worse Toxoplasma (they are very close to Toxo in
size - did you know that Toxo is also another form of coccidia)? But
occasionally, it does happen. This would explain why a diagnosis of
coccidia is given, but no clinical signs are seen.

Several years ago, in a vet journal, I saw a statement that cat or
dog coccidia could be seen in ferret feces. I have no doubt that
they can, but they would not account for any outbreak, as cat and dog
coccidia are not infectious to ferrets, or vice versa. While they
could conceivably be ingested, and pass on through, I believe that
the chance of this happening (and you picking up on it) is fairly

Generally if diarrhea is seen, and coccidia is identified on a fecal
exam, you can pretty much guarantee that the two are related.

With kindest regards,

Bruce H. Williams, DVM, DACVP
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