Porcine neonatal coccidiosis – a threat to piglet health

Introduction: Porcine neonatal coccidiosis is a common diarrhoeal disease of suckling piglets and is caused by the protozoan Cystoisospora suis (previously named Isospora suis). The parasite is ingested orally and subsequently invades the epithelium of the intestines, primarily the jejunum. Due to the destruction of the intestinal lining dysbiosis and an intensive inflammatory response cause diarrhoea with loss of fluid and poor growth. In rare cases animals can be severely affected by secondary infections with pathogenic bacteria, such as Escherichia coli or Clostridium perfringens. Approximately five days after the ingestion of the infection stages animals excrete parasites in large amounts with their faeces for at least 1-2 days, and in the environment the parasite matures to become infectious again so that the life cycle is completed after 6-7 days.

Currently coccidiosis in suckling piglets is controlled by a combination of good hygiene (removal of faeces) and chemotherapy. However, point-of-care diagnostic tools of infection are currently not available, and neither are supportive or alternative ways of control.

In our research group at the Institute of Parasitology (Department of Pathobiology) at the Vetmeduni Vienna, several topics relating to coccidiosis of neonatal pigs are addressed which are all embedded in the profile line “Infection and Prevention” of the Vetmeduni’s key research areas (Research Strategy 1). Doctoral and PhD projects are embedded in the Graduate school Pig and Poultry Medicine of the Vetmeduni 2:

Applied and translational research

Cystoisospora immunology - tools for diagnosis and research  3

Development of a Cystoisospora suis in vitro test system for screening of compounds 4

Immune mechanisms of protection against Cystoisospora suis in adult and neonatal piglets 5


Basic research


Coccidial antigens and the pig  6

Genomic and transcriptomic analysis of Cystoisospora suis 7

Life Cycle


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