Chicken coccidiosis is a kind of parasitic protozoosis caused by Eimeria parasitizing in the chicken intestinal epithelial cells. Eimeria tenella is considered as a significantly virulent and harmful parasite. At present, drug resistance remains a major problem and a large number of drug residues have been found to be produced in the treatment of the disease. Hence, novel strategies are needed to avoid the harmful effects caused by the generation of various chemical drug residues to the human body and also reduce the economic loss caused by coccidiosis to the chicken industry. In this study, natural garlic essential oil was used to control Eimeria tenella infection. The anticoccidial index (ACI) was calculated according to the clinical symptoms, body weight gain, oocyst excretion and cecal lesions. The immune organ index and serum biochemical indexes were measured to verify the possible anticoccidial effects. The results showed that: compared with the infected group, continuous feeding of different doses of natural garlic essential oil could significantly reduce the clinical symptoms, cecal lesions, the number of oocysts, but increase the weight of sick chickens, and effectively improve the intestinal functions. Moreover, compared with diclazuril control group, 0.06 mL/L garlic essential oil exhibited similar anticoccidial index. The content of immune organ index, serum biochemical index IgM, IgG and IgA in 0.06 mL/L garlic essential oil group was the highest, which indicated that garlic essential oil had a significant tendency to improve the immune function of the chickens. This study also showed that the natural garlic essential oil exhibited the same beneficial effects as that of diclazuril on chicken coccidiosis, and the anti-coccidiosis index of 0.06 mL/L garlic essential oil was favorable. Thus based on the above evidences and its relatively low cost, garlic essential oil can be potentially be used as an efficient anti parasitic drug.
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