Quantitative and qualitative leukocyte abnormalities in dogs with experimental and naturally occurring acute canine monocytic ehrlichiosis

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Abstract

Background

Canine monocytic ehrlichiosis (CME) is one of the most important tick-borne diseases worldwide. Cytopenias have been observed in both acute (nonmyelosuppressive) and chronic (myelosuppressive) CME; however, leukocyte abnormalities and indices have been incompletely described in dogs with acute CME.

Objectives

The aims of this study were to analyze temporal changes in differential leukocyte counts, leukocyte morphology, myeloperoxidase index (MPXI), and lobularity index (LI) in dogs with experimental and naturally occurring acute CME.

Methods

Differential leukocyte counts and morphology were evaluated in archived blood smears from 13 Beagle dogs experimentally infected with Ehrlichia canis and evaluated weekly for 42 days postinfection (DPI); 20 dogs with naturally occurring acute CME also were evaluated. MPXI and LI were obtained from ADVIA reports. Wilcoxon tests were used to assess changes over time; leukogram results in natural cases were assessed in comparison with reference intervals.

Results

In experimental dogs, significant decreases in neutrophil, monocyte, lymphocyte, and eosinophil counts, and a mild left shift occurred within 14 DPI. The MPXI decreased significantly between 14 and 21 DPI and remained low, while LI increased from 14 to 35 DPI. Lymphocyte counts rebounded at 21 DPI, normalizing total WBC counts. Neutrophil toxicity was seen rarely, but reactive lymphocytes were observed frequently. Dogs with natural infection had variable patterns of leukocyte changes.

Conclusions

Acute CME is associated with several discrete quantitative and qualitative leukogram changes indicative of concurrent inflammation, antigenic stimulation, and stress. Changes in MPXI and LI warrant further investigation in dogs with CME and other diseases.

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