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Coccidiosis in chickens: It’s time for vaccination


Coccidiosis in chickens is one of the more common and widespread diseases. Since the beginning of the industrial production of broilers, veterinarians and farmers have been trying to control this costly parasite


The annual cost is believed to be around $1.5 billion/year. The cost of coccidiosis in chickens is based on direct production losses and indirect costs through the application of control measures.

In the past, the fight against the different Eimeria species was through the use of several molecules in the food. The first chemicals used against coccidiosis in chickens were introduced in the 1950’s. It soon became clear that there were some efficacy problems with these molecules, in the sense that the Eimeria spp. present on the farms could develop resistance against them after they were used consecutively a couple of times on the same farm.

In fact, the very high potency of chemicals blocks parasite multiplication, but selection towards resistance is rapid. This is the reason why chemicals are used for shorter periods; in so-called “clean-up” programmes.

Then during the 1970’s a new generation of anticoccidials was launched: the ionophores. Ionophores always allow for a limited multiplication of parasites, known as “coccidial leakage”. Although this might seem to be a negative feature at first sight, it leads to slower development of reduced sensitivity. Over the years and after thousands of tonnes have been used, resistance has become an important problem and has developed to all compounds currently in use. More and more vets are asking for a solution.

The first vaccine appeared in 1952 in the US. Unfortunately, non-attenuated strains are used in this vaccine and some medication with anticoccidials is very often still needed after vaccination. These old vaccines are still in use in some countries today.

A new generation of vaccines against coccidiosis in chickens, using attenuated oocysts of Eimeria spp., has been launched in recent years:

HIPRACOX® vaccine was launched in 2008 in Europe and is still today, the only vaccine for broilers with Eimeria praecox. It also contains E. acervulina, E. maxima, E. tenella and E. mitis, making its composition ideal for broilers which very often suffer from subclinical coccidiosis in chickens.

Now HIPRA is launching EVALON®, a new Eimeria vaccine for long life birds (breeders and layers):

EVALON® contains E. acervulina, E. maxima, E. tenella, E. brunetti and E. necatrix. In these high value birds, clinical coccidiosis is one of the biggest concerns, because it is associated with increases in mortality, a decrease in uniformity and generally the increase of ∑ associated with intestinal damage or stress to the birds with consequent economic losses. Thus, the composition of the vaccine has to be studied with specific reference to these five most pathogenic species.

The vaccine vial comes in the same box with its solvent, HIPRAMUNE® T, which contains:

  • A dedicated colouring agent and a vanilla aroma that enhances the intake of the vaccine even under low light conditions.
  • An adjuvant which modulates the immune response, for the first time in a live vaccine.

As the Product Manager of EVALON® explains in this article, this new generation of adjuvanted live attenuated vaccines against coccidiosis in chickens will allow poultry veterinarians and producers to choose Eimeria Prevention using vaccination only.

It is a new era for the Prevention of coccidiosis in chickens. Now it is time for Eimeria Prevention with vaccines.