Open Journal of Applied Sciences, 2013, 3, 430-435
Published Online November 2013 (
Open Access OJAppS
Efficacy of Different Conc entrations of Aloe chabaudii Leaf
Gel as a Substitute for a Sulfonamide for the Control of
Avian Coccidiosis
Marvelous Sungirai, Moses Mucheni, Lawrence Masaka
Department of Livestock and Wildlife Management, Midlands State University, Gweru, Zimbabwe
Received July 24, 2013 ; revised September 26, 2013 ; accepted October 4, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Marvelous Sungirai et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution Li-
cense, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
The objective of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of Aloe chabaud ii schonland juice as a potential substi-
tute of sulphonamide drugs and to measure its effects when administered at different concentrations in the control of
avian coccidiosis. 30 cobb and 500 broiler chickens were used for the experiment. The broilers were randomised into
six groups of five birds each and the groups were assigned to six treatments in a Complete Randomised Design (CRD).
Four of the groups were given any one of the following treatments, different concentrations of Aloe (weight/volume:
10%, 20% and 30%) and a sulphonamide. There was a control group which was not given a treatment and one cohort
group which was neither infected nor treated. At two weeks of age, 25 of the birds were infected with coccidia via
drinking water using infected chicken fecal matter, while the remaining five birds were left uninfected. Infection pro-
ceeded for 1 week and after the infection period, fecal oocysts were counted from each individual bird using the
McMaster technique. Treatments started one day after the infection and continued for one week after 20 gram samples
of fecal matter were taken from each bird per treatment and oocysts were counted. After oocyst counting, all birds were
slaughtered and lesion scoring was done on the intestines using the Johnson and Reid technique. Data was analysed for
oocysts count in different treatments, fecal egg count reduction, relative risk of coccidiosis and the effectiveness of Aloe
concentrations as a substitute for a commercial sulphonamide. The results showed that the concentrations of Aloe used
in the experiment were not effective as compared to the sulphonamide in controlling coccidiosis as the fecal egg reduc-
tion was below 90% for all concentrations. The relative risk of coccidiosis infection in the farm was found to be 100%,
meaning that coccidiosis is a disease of economic importance at the farm. However, there was a reduction in the fecal
oocyst count with increase in Aloe juice concentration to control coccidiosis, though this could not be compared to sul-
phonamide (ESB3) which was more effective (p < 0.05). This study has shown that there is potential for use of Aloe
chabaudii leaf gel as a chemotherapeutic though much research is needed to determine absolute concentrations which
will make it comparable to commercially available drugs in terms of efficacy.
Keywords: Aloe chabaudii; Coccidiosis; Sulphonamide; Efficacy
1. Introduction
Avian coccidiosis is among the most costly and wide-
spread infectious diseases in the poultry industry [1]. In
Zimbabwe, the disease is of socio-economic importance
among newly resettled and rural poultry farmers [2]. The
land reform programme which started in the year of 2000
led to an increase in the number of small scale broiler
farmers countrywide. Many of these farmers practice ex-
tensive to semi-extensive poultry production. This is
comprised mainly of a wide range of free range and
broiler chicken farming, where disease incidence of poul-
try coccidiosis has been on the rise [2].
The majority of resettled farmers still use primitive
production structures such as poor poultry housing, and
this coupled together with the use of untreated water
from unprotected water sources such as dams, open wells
and rivers increases the chance of incidences of diseases
such as avian coccidiosis. Due to the liquidity challenges
the country currently faces, resource-poor farmers are
unable to purchase commercial drugs, and this coupled
together with the closure of veterinary shops in commu-
nal and resettlement areas leads to challenges in the con-
trol of livestock diseases. In addition, some resettled
farmers are located far from these shops and have to
travel long distances to urban areas to purchase drugs.
A remedy can be found in the use of ethno veterinary
medicines. Ethno veterinary medicines have been known
to be used in the control of different livestock ailments,
and Aloe is a good example. The ethno veterinary use of
Aloe dates far back into history as in the Greek, Egyptian
and Roman eras. Its therapeutic advantages have sur-
vived for over 4000 yrs with the earliest records being
dated back to 2100 BC [3]. Aloe comes in a wholesome
number of varieties and different sub species. These in-
clude A. excelsa, A. spicata and A. vera and these have a
good reputation for their use in research concerning
ethno veterinary science [4]. Aloe chabaudii schonland is
a traditional medicine which has also been used to con-
trol avian coccidiosis, over years in most rural parts of
eastern Zimbabwe and Mozambique [5]. Majority of
communal farmers, who use it, claim that the herb is an
efficient remedy to such ailments. However, unlike its
former mentioned sub species, there is not much evi-
dence in terms of quantifiable data to substantiate the
claims. It is still being used as a cheaper and more read-
ily available alternative for the control of coccidiosis by a
majority of small scale producers in the unavailability of
chemothe-rapeutic agents.
It is therefore important to have knowledge on the
most appropriate dosages of the Aloe leaf juice that will
elicit an effective therapeutic response from the chickens.
This will go a long way in addressing losses due to the
financial liquidity challenges faced by communal farmers
in accessing veterinary drugs, and also addressing issues
concerning disease resistance due to continued use of a
single drug. This research was therefore carried out to
determine the results of using different concentrations of
Aloe chabaudii schonland juice in the control of coccidi-
osis in small scale broiler production, as a substitute for a
popular chemo therapeutic sulphonamide.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Study Area Description
This research was carried out at Family Aids Caring
Trust, located 1km from Rusape town centre in Makoni
district of the Manicaland province in Zimbabwe. This
area falls under agro-ecological region IIb with sandy
loam soils. The annual rainfall ranges between a 1000
mm - 1200 mm with an average maximum temperature
of 22˚C. The terrain is of gently rugged slopes falling in
the catchment area of the Rusape river and dam basin
located at an altitude of 4610 feet above sea level (1410
2.2. Methodology
2.2.1. Experimental Birds, Design and Management
30 Cobb 500 broilers raised from day old were used in
this experiment. The birds were grown under uniform
brooder conditions up to one week of age with an aver-
age mass of 150 - 180 g live mass. At this age, 25 birds
were infected with an average 20,000 coccidian oocysts
via drinking water using infected fecal matter of posi-
tively diagnosed birds obtained from a local veterinary
station. Infection continued for a week to complete the
incubation period of the mature oocysts which is 4 - 6
days as according to [6]. After the last day of infection,
the 25 birds infected were chosen and randomised to 5
groups in a Complete Randomised Design, where each
group contained 5 birds. A sixth group which containing
uninfected birds was added. The birds were housed in a
disinfected deep litter system with wood shavings being
the bedding material. Each treatment occupied an area of
1 m2 where feed was provided ad libitum and bird were
allowed 2 litres of water per day. The feed which was
used was in the form of starter crumbs (21% CP) for the
first two weeks, and broiler grower pellets (16% CP) for
the last two weeks of the experiment. The birds were
already vaccinated against Newcastle disease by the sup-
plier and vaccination for this disease was not repeated,
however, birds were vaccinated against Infectious Bursal
Disease at two weeks of age.
2.2.2. Aloe chabaudii Identification and Chemical
A search was made for Aloe chabaudii to be used in the
study. An Aloe species was positively identified and con-
firmed as Aloe chabaudii schonland by experts of bo-
tanical sciences from the University of Zimbabwe. Ten
Aloe chabaudii leaves were then collected from different
plants within the area neighbouring that of study and were
stored overnight in a refrigerator at a temperature of 4˚C
to prevent oxidation of heat degradable component of the
sap. The samples were then sent the following morning
to the University of Zimbabwe Bio chemistry department
for chemical composition analysis. Results showed that
100g Aloe leaf extract had 10% mass per unit volume
(10% m/v) concentration, this having 98.5% water and
0.5% dissolved solutes. On average, a full grown leaf
weighed 200 g equivalent to 50 g of Aloe extract.
2.2.3. Treatments
This experiment had six groups, with five birds per group
and each bird per group was an experimental unit, there-
fore each treatment was replicated five times. 200 g of
fresh Aloe leaves were cut into small cubical pieces and
were soaked in 2 litres of chicken drinking water (ap-
proximately 10% m/v extract), and left over night for the
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leaf juice to diffuse into solution and was treated in the
first group. Simultaneously the second and the third group
were treated with 400 g (approx 20% m/v extract) and
600 g (approx 30% m/v extract) of Aloe leaves respec-
tively. 10% m/v Aloe extract, was taken as the first treat-
ment for the lowest Aloe extract concentration level, 20%
m/v being the second and 30% m/v being the highest
Aloe extract concentration level in this case. The forth
group represented the cohort study so as to prove the
importance of avian coccidiosis as a disease of economic
importance in this experiment. This group contained 5
birds that were not infected and were not given any
treatment neither in their feed nor drinking water. The 5th
group was the control which had infected birds but was
not assigned for any treatment dosages. The 6th group
had infected birds which were receiving a sulphonamide
drug treatment which was sulfaclozine (ESB3). Dosages
stared from the third week and continued for one week
with all other variables being kept constant.
2.2.4. Data collection
1) Oocyst counts
After a week of giving the assigned treatments, indi-
vidual birds per group had their fecal samples collected
by means of plastic collecting bags. About 10 g from
each sample collected was taken to the central veterinary
laboratories for oocysts counting using the McMaster’s
chamber oocysts counting technique. Briefly in this tech-
nique, 10 g of fecal matter were soaked in 100 ml of tap
water for 24 hours at 4˚C. The mixture was then shaken
vigorously and the litter was filtered through a single
thickness of muslin (q.s. filtrate to 100 ml). A 10 ml cen-
trifuge tube was filled with filtrate and centrifuged for
five minutes at a speed that concentrates the solids. The
debris was removed and the pellet was re suspended in a
few milliliters of saturated salt solution (sodium chloride).
Samples were taken from the solution using a Pasteur
pipette and were poured on a McMaster’s fill chamber.
The number of oocysts was counted under a microscope
and the actual number of oocysts was calculated using
the following formula:
Number of oocytes per gram of litter
(1.1) 100 0.1
n = number of oocysts counted,
0.10 = volume of the McMaster counting chamber,
100 = 100 ml of water that the litter is soaked in, and
0.1 = correction for 10 g of litter originally taken.
2) Lesion scoring
Individual birds per treatment were sent for gastro in-
testinal lesion analysis once at the end of the treatment
period, after fecal oocyst count samples were taken and
analysed. Each bird was dissected and their gastro intes-
tinal tracts removed and opened to analyse them for le-
sions. Observations were recorded as data in the form of
scores as according to the lesion scoring technique by [7].
The data collected was transformed before analysis.
3) Relative Risk
The relative risk for the incidence of coccidiosis by
measuring association between exposed (control) and non-
exposed (cohort) broilers was done using the following
formula (Table 1).
Therefore, Relative Risk of Disease = Risk in exposed
group/Risk in unexposed group × 100
4) Statistical analysis
Differences in initial level of infection and after treat-
ment oocysts counts were compared using Fecal Egg
Reduction Technique (FERT) using the following for-
(1.4) initialcount finalcount100
One way analysis of variance was used to analyse the
transformed data for lesion scores and that of oocyst
counts using the Genstat Discovery Edition. Mean values
were separated using the least significance differences
(LSD) and differences were considered significant at p <
3. Results
3.1. Fecal Egg Reduction Technique for Oocyst
ESB3 treatment was only one which had over 90% FERT
percentage, thus it was the only one effective in disease
control (Table 2).
Table 1. 2 × 2 table to calculate relative risk.
Infected Non infected totals
Exposed (control)a b a + b
Non exposed(cohort)c d c + d
Risk for exposed = (1.2) a
and risk for non-exposed group = (1.3)
, where a = number of infected birds in the exposed group; b = num-
ber of non-infected birds in the exposed group; c = number of infected birds
in the non-exposed group; d = number of non-infected birds in the non-ex-
posed group.
Table 2. Fecal egg reduction (FERT/10 g fecal matter).
treatment Aloe 10Aloe 20 Aloe 30 cohort controlEsb3
Mean final
oocyst count352 290 233 800 348730
Mean Initial
oocysts count2000 2000 2000 2000 20002000
FECR % 82.4 85.5 88.4 60 74.3598.5
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3.2. Oocyst Count
From Figure 1, there was a significant reduction in the
fecal oocyst count (p < 0.05) with increase in Aloe juice
concentration to control coccidiosis, with Aloe 30% hav-
ing the highest percentage reduction in oocysts. The mean
final oocyst count value for ESB3 (30 oocysts/10g of
fecal matter) was significantly lower (p < 0.05) than that
of the most effective Aloe concentration (Aloe 30%) which
had a value of 233 oocysts/10g of fecal matter. However,
Aloe treatments managed to reduce oocysts numbers to a
large extent comparing with their initial levels of infec-
tion oocysts count (from an average of 2000 oocysts/10g
fecal matter. In the control there, was an increase in oo-
cyst count value to a higher level of 3487 oocysts/10g
fecal matter, from that of the average initial level of in-
fection which was 2000 oocysts/10g fecal matter. The
cohort analysis group showed a significant level of infec-
tion by coccidian having a final group average oocyst
count mean value of 800 oocyst/10g fecal matter, having
started the experiment without infection.
3.3. Lesion Scores
Figure 2 shows that there were no significant differences
(p ˃ 0.05) in the numbers of birds affected with lesions
for all Aloe treatments, together with the control and co-
hort. The control showed the greatest occurrence of le-
sions. However, it is also shown that the ESB3 treatment
was significantly different from all the other treatments
(p < 0.05) and had the least range in terms of number of
Figure 1. Changes in average pre and post treatment oocyst counts for all treatments 1: Changes in average pre and post
treatment oocyst counts for all treatments. CV (%) = 1.6, S.E = 14.11.
Figure 2. Distribution of number of bi rds found to have lesions per trea tment.
3.4. Relative Risk
The relative risk of infection with coccidiosis was calcu-
lated and found to be 100%.
(1.5) riskin exposedgroup100
riskinnon exposedgroup
4. Discussion
Aloe managed to reduce oocyst levels to minimum levels
but the results were not comparable to that of ESB3. Re-
sults obtained by [2] showed that treatment with 0.8 g of
Aloe Excelsa ground powder in drinking water signifi-
cantly reduced oocyst numbers. In his he showed that
differences in oocyst counts proved A. excelsa juice to be
as effective as ESB3 in controlling coccidiosis. However,
their results also showed that the Aloe drug although ef-
fective, had a lower curative value as compared to that
shown by the ESB3 drug. This is similar to this case,
where A. chabaudii gel was not as efficient in its control
as compared to ESB3. The most possible reason for this
could be that, the concentration levels of Aloe used in
this experiment were not enough to conclude that A.
chabaudii leaf gel could not reach an oocyst reduction
level like that observed for ESB3. This implies that, since
the reduction in oocysts with increase in Aloe juice con-
centration was not exhausted to the threshold level, fur-
ther increasing the Aloe concentration could possibly
have increased oocyst reduction in the broilers.
Another reason why Aloe was proved not to be as ef-
fective as ESB3, though it reduced oocyst numbers, is
due to the differences in the mode of action towards coc-
cidian oocysts control between the two agents. ESB3 is a
coccidiocidal drug meaning it actually kills disease agents
by inhibiting protein synthesis within their systems and
thus kill the microbes. This is different from Aloe juice’s
mode of action which is more coccidiostatical, meaning,
it arrests the intra and extra cellular growth of the disease
agent though development may resume after drug with-
drawal. This is supported by work done by [8] which
looked at the protective effects of Aloe vera based diets
in Eimeria maxima, in which Aloe treatment proved suc-
cessful. The study discussed that Aloe was able to control
coccidiosis due to the chemistry of its gel. The chemistry
of Aloe juice comprises of a class of organic chemicals
known as 1.8 dihydroxyanthraquinone derivatives includ-
ing Aloe emodin, aloetic acid and isobarbaloin [9]. These
chemical constituencies in the Aloe juice act as laxative
agents by interacting with the gastrointestinal mucosa
and inducing bowel motility and allowing for quick dis-
charging of coccidia lodged in fecal matter.
Though effective, ESB3 was not able to reduce the
number of oocysts to zero to show complete disease con-
trol. This could be explained by the issue of emergence
of drug resistant Eimeria strains due to the continued use
of ESB3 to control coccidiosis as it is the most available
anticoccidial. As explained by [10], there has been a
concern in the rise of ionophore and sulphonamide resis-
tant strains of coccidia in many broiler production sys-
tems of the world and much research is being done to
investigate such problems.
[4] also found out that there were significant decreases
in oocyst counts by increasing Aloe concentration in a
related study, same way with what was observed in this
study. However lesion score results from this study
showed differences from what was obtained by [8] as
there were no differences in the range of the number of
birds that had lesion scores for all treatment only with
ESB3 showing significant lesion score control. This can
be due to differences in the pathogenicity that occur be-
tween Eimeria strains. Since this experiment was based
on a mixed Eimeria strain exposure, it could be that there
was an uneven distribution between the most virulent and
less virulent strains of Eimeria during the time of infec-
tion as the eight species known to infect poultry are not
known to be equally important. For instance, E. mitis is
very pathogenic, but doesn’t necessarily result in lesions
as compared to E. acervulina and E. maxima [11]. In
another experiment involving using A. secu ndiflora gel
as anticoccidial, [12] observed that Aloe treated birds had
a glyco protein Aloe layer, lining the intestinal lumen of
the gastro intestinal tract. This layer prevented the ad-
herence and invasion of the intestinal lining by mature
oocysts such that the birds had less clinical lesions.
Lesion score results showed no significant differences
in terms of the number of birds infected between A. cha-
baudii gel treated groups, which is different from what
was shown with the oocyst count results. [11] explains
this by stating that there is weak correlation between le-
sion scores and oocysts per gram (OPG) meaning that
increase in lesions is not directly linked to amount of
oocyst per gram fecal matter and vice versa. According
to [13], Eimeria have a high morbidity, resilience and
incidence may occur due to transferring by animals, in-
sects, dust, contaminated feed, water and equipment.
This probably explains the incidence of disease in the
prospective cohort analysis of this study proving the im-
portance of coccidiosis as a disease in poultry production.
The uninfected birds which received no treatment were
housed in the same run as with all the other treatments
thus mature oocyst could have possibly been transferred
to these birds.
5. Conclusion
Coccidiosis has been shown to be a disease of economic
importance under poor habitat, health and nutrition. This
thus implies that there is a need to control cases upon
incidence, and proper management should be effected to
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prevent disease prevalence. Aloe chabaudii has been
shown to be a potential chemotherapeutic for coccidiosis
as seen by the reduction in fecal oocysts. However, it is
not as effective as ESB3 in controlling coccidiosis,
therefore, it can be used as a coccidiostat to control the
disease in the absence of more effective drugs. Future
studies are recommended to increase the concentration
(m/v) of Aloe chabaudii to levels beyond those used in
this study. There is also a need to increase the number of
birds per group and repeat data collection more than once
to increase amount of data and accuracy of results. Lastly,
future studies should determine the cost effectiveness of
using Aloe in controlling coccidiosis as compared to the
use of sulphonamides.
6. Acknowledgements
The authors would like to acknowledge the following for
their contributions towards this work FACT Rusape for
providing all the requirements that were needed for this
research. Our sincere gratitude to Dr. C. Zimudzi, of the
University of Zimbabwe Botany department, Dr. E. Ku-
pahwana from Makoni District Veterinary department,
Dr. Swiswa from Central Veterinary Laboratories and Mr.
A. Samutsa from Livestock Production Department, Ma-
koni District.
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