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 of Haemonchus 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.
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J.A.v.W. (University of Pretoria) was responsible for
developing the novel approach to morphological identification
of infective larvae of the common gastrointestinal nematode
genera of small ruminants and cattle and wrote the
manuscript. E.M. (University of Pretoria) was responsible for
all the art work and finishing of the article.