A single diagnostic test for acute undifferentiated febrile illnesses (AUFI) is elusive. This pilot study was undertaken on the premise that leucocytes, being the main cells of defence, undergo quantitative, structural and functional changes in AUFI. We evaluated the potential of volume, conductivity and scatter (VCS) parameters of leucocytes, generated with the haemogram report by the Coulter auto-analyzer, in differentiating the common etiologies of AUFI.Methods
The haematological and VCS data obtained from 800 controls and 200 cases of AUFI (50 cases each of acute malaria, dengue, scrub typhus and enteric fever) were retrieved for analysis.Results
The cases and controls differed significantly with respect to relative numbers and the VCS parameters of neutrophils, lymphocytes and monocytes (p<0.05). The neutrophil and lymphocyte were significantly voluminous in acute malaria and scrub typhus as compared to dengue and enteric fevers (p<0.05). Enteric fever significantly enhanced the conductivity of neutrophils as compared to other subgroups while lymphocyte conductivity significantly differed from dengue and scrub typhus. Lymphocyte and neutrophil scatter values in malaria and scrub typhus were comparable but differed significantly from that in enteric fever.Conclusions
Etiology-specific changes occur in leucocytes, both in numbers and their VCS properties which can be identified without additional cost.