At WRC, we see many different species with different injuries and diseases. In order to have a more complete picture of what is happening with the animal, we can look at blood under a microscope.
This photo, taken from our microscope shows Virginia Opossum blood. Opossums and other mammals (like us) have round red blood cells, many of which can be seen in this photo. The large cell in the middle is a neutrophil which is a white blood cell that helps rid the body of infection and is a “first responder” when some sort of traumatic injury has occurred. Neutrophils are typically the most common white blood cell seen when counting cells.
The pink cell in this photo is an example of an eosinophil from a Western Painted Turtle. A high number of eosinophils can indicate that the animal has a large number of parasites. Notice the other cells in the photo, they are red blood cells. In birds and reptiles the rbc’s have a dark purple nucleus and are generally larger than mammal red blood cells.
This last photo shows a heterophil from a bird. Heterophils in birds have the same function as neutrophils in mammals. There are five types of white blood cells that are counted when we look at blood and each cell has a different function. Each of the 170 or so species we see may have slightly different looking blood cells so the three photos shown are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to blood cell evaluation. Seeing the difference between the cells can be tricky business but the information that these blood counts can yield is very valuable to our veterinarians… and our patients!