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Coccidiosis is an infectious parasitic disease of the intestinal tract of animals caused by coccidian protozoa. This species specific disease spreads from one animal to another by contact with infected feces. In the majority of cases diarrhea is the primary symptom. Coccidiosis in Bearded dragons is a very common. It is commonly seen in stressed dragons, especially in neglected and unhygienic enclosures. Parasites can often infect a dragon even if their owner keeps a clean cage, from their feeder bugs or greens, sometimes infections happen and it is no ones fault. But as with all infected animal species, coccidia invade the gastrointestinal tract and cause cellular damage, giving rise to various degrees of diarrhea. If uncontrolled or untreated, coccidiosis can even lead to death.
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There is some controversy as to the significance of this disease as many infected individuals can be purely be carriers (called ‘coccidiasis’). Not all animals with coccidia have clinical signs of disease. Stress is believed to be a major contributing factor and can alter levels of the parasite. Severely affected Bearded dragons mainly show gastrointestinal signs which includes the following:
- Partial or complete anorexia (lack of appetite)
- Weight loss & poor body condition
- Dehydration (wrinkled skin & sunken eyes)
- Weakness (lying flat)
- Lethargy or dullness (unaware of its surroundings)
- Diarrhea (abnormal or runny feces)
- Blood tinged stool
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