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The importance of manual white blood cell differential counts and platelet estimates in elephant hematology: blood film review is essential.

  • Weisbrod, Tatiana C1
  • Isaza, Ramiro2
  • Cray, Carolyn3
  • Adler, Laurie2
  • Stacy, Nicole I1, 3
  • 1 Department of Comparative, Diagnostic, and Population Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610 USA;
  • 2 Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610 USA;
  • 3 Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, FL 33136 USA.
Published Article
The veterinary quarterly
Publication Date
Dec 21, 2020
DOI: 10.1080/01652176.2020.1867329
PMID: 33349154


Background: Unique features of elephant hematology are known challenges in analytical methodology like two types of monocytes typical for members of the Order Afrotheria and platelet counts of the comparatively small elephant platelet. Aim: To investigate WBC differential and platelet data generated by an impedance-based hematology analyzer without availability of validated species-specific software for recognition of elephant WBCs and platelets, compared to manual blood film review. Methods: Blood samples preserved in ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) of 50 elephants (n = 35 Elephas maximus and n = 15 Loxodonta africana) were used. A Mann-Whitney test for independent samples was used to compare parameters between methods and agreement was tested using Bland-Altman bias plots. Results: All hematological variables, including absolute numbers of heterophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils, basophils, and platelets, were significantly different (P <0.0001) between both methods of analysis, and there was no agreement using Bland-Altman bias plots. Manual review consistently produced higher heterophil and monocyte counts as well as platelet estimates, while the automated analyzer produced higher lymphocyte, eosinophil, and basophil counts. The hematology analyzer did not properly differentiate elephant lymphocytes and monocytes, and did not accurately count elephant platelets. Conclusion: These findings emphasize the importance of manual blood film review as part of elephant complete blood counts in both clinical and research settings and as a basis for the development of hematological reference intervals.

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