Original Research

Morphological identification of parasitic nematode infective larvae of small ruminants and cattle: A practical lab guide

Jan A. van Wyk, Estelle Mayhew
Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research | Vol 80, No 1 | a539 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ojvr.v80i1.539 | © 2013 Jan A. van Wyk, Estelle Mayhew | This work is licensed under CC Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0
Submitted: 19 November 2012 | Published: 13 March 2013

About the author(s)

Jan A. van Wyk, Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Estelle Mayhew, Department for Telematic Education Innovation, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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In 2004, a new concept was introduced for simplifying identification of larvae of the common nematodes of cattle, sheep and goats that comprises estimates of the lengths of the sheath tail extensions of infective third-stage larvae (L3) of each genus and/or species to that of Trichostrongylus spp., instead of having to be dependent only on measurements in micrometre. For example, if the mean length of the sheath tail extension (the extension of the sheath caudad, beyond the caudal tip of the larva) of Trichostrongylus colubriformis and Trichostrongylus axei is assumed to be ‘X’, then that ofHaemonchus contortus is 2.0–2.7 ‘X’ – a difference that is not difficult to estimate. An additional new approach suggested now, particularly for L3 of species and/or genera difficult to differentiate (such as Chabertia ovina and Oesophagostomum columbianum), is to estimate the proportion of the larval sheath tail extension comprising a terminal thin, whip-like filament. For the experienced person, it is seldom necessary to measure more than one or two sheath tail extensions of L3 in a mixed culture, because the identity of most of the remaining L3 can thereafter be estimated in relation to those measured, without having to take further measurements. The aim of this article was to present the novel approach in the form of a working guide for routine use in the laboratory. To facilitate identification, figures and a separate organogram for each of small ruminants and cattle have been added to illustrate the distinguishing features of the common L3.


cattle; differential larval count; lab guide; nematode larva identification; small ruminant


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