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E. mac
E. Mac

Eimeria Macusaniensis (E.mac) is a coccidian parasite that can cause severe illness. E. mac is called a “large coccidia” because its oocyst (egg) is very large compared to the other coccidia of llamas and alpacas. E. mac, like the other “small’ coccidia is a protozoan parasite that lives in the intestinal tract. This parasite causes damage to the lining of the intestine and inhibits normal absorption of nutrients and causes fluid to be secreted from the damaged intestinal wall. This results in diarrhea, weight loss and low blood protein levels.
E. mac is a common parasite of many alpacas and most farms will have some positive animals. A low number of E. mac found on a routine fecal exam is not cause for alarm—but something that should be noted. Most researchers would agree that a low level exposure to parasites results in some protective immunity and is desirable. Health problems occur when an animal is exposed to an overwhelming load of parasites or if exposure occurs when the animal’s natural defenses are low. This may occur if a cria failed to get a good passive transfer of colostrum, during show season or with travel to a new farm.
Diagnosis of illness caused by E. mac can be difficult because of the long pre-patent period. This pre-patent period is the time from infection (and damage to the intestinal wall) till the time the oocysts appear in the feces. Finding the oocysts in the fecal exam and clinical disease are the criteria that we use to establish the diagnosis. E. mac will have a pre-patent period of 35-43 days—so the animal can have damage to the intestine and we can not prove it is caused by E. mac because the fecal exam is negative.
Many times treatment for E. mac is started based on farm history of E.mac being present, clinical signs of diarrhea and low blood proteins on examination of blood work.
Treatment of E. mac can be accomplished with Corid, sulfa drugs or a new product called Marquis. Consult with your veterinarian for best treatment for your particular situation.