ISSN 2398-2993      

Cooperia spp


Mike Taylor

Andrew Forbes

Synonym(s): Cooperiosis




  • Phylum: nematoda.
  • Class: secernentea.
  • Superfamily: trichostrongyloidea.

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Clinical Effects



  • Third stage larvae may overwinter on pasture until late spring under certain climatic conditions.
  • Mild, wet conditions appear to be less favorable than colder winters with frost and snow.
  • Shifts in temperature to the optimum in conjunction with heavy rainfall can increase the numbers of L3 at pasture dramatically over a short period.


  • Female worms are oviparous. Unembryonated eggs containing many blastomeres, are passed in the feces.
  • Under optimal conditions, the eggs can hatch and develop to the infective (L3) stage within approximately seven days, but this takes longer at lower temperatures.
  • Once developed the L3 leave the fecal pats to reach the herbage either by active movement or passively through the action of rainfall or other mechanical vectors.
  • After ingestion, L3 penetrate the intestinal mucosa, exsheath, and migrate into the intestinal crypts and undergo two moults to reach the adult stage, located on the mucosal surface.
  • The prepatent period from ingestion of infective larvae to excretion of eggs in the faeces is 2-3 weeks.
  • Arrested development at the early fourth (EL4) stage occurs during late autumn and winter in the northern hemisphere, and spring and summer in the southern hemisphere.


  • Transmission is by ingestion of infective 3rd stage (L3) larvae.
  • Infection occurs mainly in calves in their first grazing season as older animals have a developed a solid immunity following season-long exposure to the worms.

Pathological effects

  • C. oncophora is generally considered to be a mild pathogen in calves, although in some studies it has been associated with loss of appetite and poor weight gains, and very occasionally heavy infections may induce intermittent diarrhea.
  • C. punctata is a more pathogenic species since it penetrates the epithelial surface of the small intestine leading to villous atrophy, reduced absorption and diarrhea.
  • C. pectinata and C. surnabada may cause catarrhal enteritis with loss of appetite, poor weight gain, diarrhea, and in some cases, submandibular edema.

Other Host Effects

  • In temperate areas, Cooperia spp. usually play a secondary role in the pathogenesis of parasitic gastroenteritis of cattle although they may be the most numerous trichostrongyle worms present.
  • Immunity to re-infection develops after about 8–12 months of exposure to infective larvae.


  • All currently available anthelmintics are generally effective against Cooperia spp.
  • Cooperia spp. are dose-limiting species for several macrocyclic lactones (ML) and it is important to consult the manufacturer’s data sheets for efficacy of individual products against adult and larval stages. 
  • Suspect lack of efficacy and resistance with Cooperia spp. are increasingly reported in some countries.
  • Control can be achieved by dosing prophylactically using a ML that gives an extended period of protection against Cooperia spp at the start of the grazing season, or by the administration of benzimidazole-containing rumen boluses.


  • No vaccines are available.

Other countermeasures

  • Alternative countermeasures outlined for other nematode worm infections will also help to control Cooperia infections.


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Further Reading


Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Ballweber L R (2006) Endoparasite Control. Vet Clin Food Anim Pract 22, 451–461.
  • Hammerberg B (1986) Pathophysiology of nematodiasis in cattle. Vet Clin North Am Food Anim Pract 2, 225–34.
  • Borgsteede F H M & Hendriks J (1974) Identification of infective larvae of gastrointestinal nematodes in cattle. Tijdschr. Dlergeneesk 99, 103-113.
  • Williams J C & Mayhew R L (1967) Survival of infective larvae of cattle nematodes Cooperia punctata, Trichostrongylus axei, and Oesophagostomum radiatum. American J Veterinary Res 28, 629–40.

Other sources of information

  • Taylor M A, Coop R L & Wall R L (2016) Chapter 8 - Parasites of Cattle. In: Veterinary Parasitology. 4th edn. John Wiley & Sons, UK. pp 380-382.
  • Taylor M (2015) Chapter 21, Applied Clinical Parasitology for Cattle Practitioners. In: Bovine Medicine. 3rd edn. John Wiley & Sons, UK. pp 198-210.
  • Taylor M A (2004) Chapter 60, Antiparasitics. Blackwell Science Ltd, 9600 Grassington Road, UK. pp 1019-1034.

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