A model for the dynamics of the parasitic stages of equine cyathostomins

Dave M. Leathwick, Christian W. Sauermann, Craig R. Reinemeyer, Martin K. Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


A model was developed to reproduce the dynamics of the parasitic stages of equine cyathostomins. Based on a detailed review of published literature, a deterministic simulation model was constructed using the escalator boxcar-train approach, which allows for fully-overlapping cohorts of worms and approximately normally distributed variations in age/size classes. Key biological features include a declining establishment of ingested infective stage larvae as horses age. Development rates are constant for all the parasitic stages except the encysted early third stage larvae, for which development rates are variable to reflect the sometimes extended arrestment of this stage. For these, development is slowed in the presence of adult worms in the intestinal lumen, and when ingestion of infective larvae on herbage is high or extended. In the absence of anthelmintic treatments, the life span of adult worms is approximately 12 months, and the presence of an established adult worm burden largely blocks the transition of luminal fourth stage larvae to the adult stage, resulting in mortality of the larvae. This inhibition is removed by effective anthelmintic treatment allowing the rapid replacement of adult worms from the pool of mucosal stages. Within the model, the rate and seasonality at which infective stage larvae are ingested strongly influences the dynamics of the pre-adult stages. While the adult worm burden remains relatively stable within a year, due to the negative feedback they have on developing stages, the numbers and proportions of larval stages relative to the total worm burden increase with the numbers of infective larvae ingested. Further, within the model, the seasonal rise and fall of encysted stages is largely driven by the seasonal pattern of infective larvae on pasture. Because of this, the model reproduces the contrasting seasonal patterns of mucosal larvae, typical of temperate and tropical environments, using only the appropriate seasonality of larvae on pasture. Thus, the model reproduces output typical of different climatic regions and suggests that observed patterns of arrested development may simply reflect the numbers and seasonality of free-living stages on pasture as determined by different management practices and weather patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-60
Number of pages8
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
StatePublished - Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier B.V.


  • Cyathostomin
  • Encysted larvae
  • Life-cycle
  • Parasite dynamics
  • Simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • General Veterinary


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