Besides the anticoccidial drug resistance problem, increasing consumer concerns about food safety and residues have propelled the quest for alternative prevention and control strategies amongst which phytotherapy has gained appeal due to a renewed interest in natural medicine.Objective: The objective was in vivo screening of four phytochemicals/extracts and a fungal immunomodulatory protein (FIP) against an Eimeria acervulina infection in broilers.Animals and methods: Four phytochemicals/extracts (extract from Echinacea purpurea, betaine (Betain™), curcumin, carvacrol (two different doses)), and a recombinant FIP from Ganoderma lucidum cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli were investigated for their anticoccidial potential. The experiment was conducted in a battery cage trial with 54 cages of eight birds each. Broilers infected with E. acervulina (a low and high infection dose of 104 and 105 sporulated oocysts, respectively) and treated with the phytochemicals/extracts or the FIP were compared with broilers treated with the anticoccidial salinomycin sodium (Sacox®) and with an untreated uninfected and an untreated infected control group. Coccidiosis lesion scores, body weight gains and oocyst shedding were used as parameters.Results: The results showed a coccidiosis infection dose effect on the mean coccidiosis lesion scores. The phytochemicals/extracts and the FIP failed to reduce coccidiosis lesion scores and oocyst shedding, while salinomycin efficiently controlled the E. acervulina infection and enabled significantly higher body weight gains.Conclusion: In conclusion, the selected phytochemicals/extracts and the FIP did not reduce the lesions of an experimentally induced E. acervulina infection.
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