Scientists are developing a novel diagnostic blood test for the assessment of encysted small strongyle larval burdens in horses.

Adult cyathostomins
Examples of adult cyathostomins (small strongyles) on a large intestinal ulcer. Image from Veterinary Times article Anthelmintic resistance in equine worms by Gerald Coles.

The test, developed by Moredun, detects antibodies to larval cyathostomins encysted in the gut wall of infected horses.


Moredun is collaborating with Austin Davis Biologics (service providers of EquiSal tapeworm testing) to develop the test for use with saliva samples.

If successful, this would simplify the collection process for horse owners, allowing them to take samples for analysis directly from their horses.

Collecting samples

Small strongyles (also known as cyathostomins), are a group of parasites commonly found in the gut of grazing horses. Generally, the higher the worm burden, the higher the risk of clinical disease in the horse. The effects of infection with these worms range from a dull coat and weight loss to colic, severe diarrhoea and death.

The immature stages (larvae) play an important role in these disease syndromes. Direct methods for the detection of these states do not exist, preventing specific diagnosis and targeted treatment of the infection.

For the early stages of this collaborative project, scientists are working with equine veterinary practices to collect matched samples of blood and saliva and, after initial development, saliva test results will be compared with the previously validated blood test.

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