Encysted cyathostomin larvae in foals – progression of stages and the effect of seasonality

Martin K. Nielsen, Eugene T. Lyons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Cyathostomins (small strongyles) are ubiquitous in grazing horses and are known pathogens as cause of larval cyathostominosis. As part of their life cycle, cyathostomin larvae invade the mucosal walls of the large intestines and undergo encystment. Newly ingested third stage larvae are known to undergo arrested development and this can lead to an accumulation of encysted burdens over the course of a grazing season. It is believed that the host immune system plays a significant role in triggering this arrestment. Little is known about the development and progression of larval stages in foals that are not expected to mount a pronounced immune response to ingested cyathostomin larvae. This study evaluated counts of encysted larvae measured in 37 foals. The foals were born in 2013, 2014, and 2015 into a parasitology research herd kept without anthelmintic intervention and were humanely euthanatized between 50 and 293 days of age as part of an ongoing parasite transmission study. A mucosal digestion technique was performed to enumerate encysted early third stage (EL3) and late third stage/fourth stage (LL3/L4) larvae in the cecum, ventral colon and dorsal colon. Counts were analyzed statistically to evaluate the influence of foal age, sex, and seasonality on the counts. Total counts as well as LL3/L4 counts were significantly higher during the grazing season (March–November). Three defined age groups (>100, 100–200, >200 days) did not have statistically different counts. Male foals had significantly higher total counts compared to females, and this has not been reported before. The study found that 41% of the recovered larvae were EL3s, but no indication of arrested development of these was observed. This indicates that cyathostomin infection in foals progresses in a manner substantially different from mature horses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-112
Number of pages5
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
StatePublished - Mar 15 2017


  • Arrested development
  • Cyathostomins
  • Encysted
  • Foals
  • Season
  • Sex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Veterinary (all)


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