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Hepatozoon canis infection disrupting blood counts

Last changed: 28 January 2020

In this case report, a Swedish flat‐coated retriever was diagnosed with an extensive Hepatozoon canis infection. The dog had a prominent monocytosis (14.0 × 109/L) with H. canis gamonts detected in most monocytes, but none were found in the neutrophils.

On the hematology system ADVIA 2120 peroxidase (PEROX) cytogram, most leukocytes were seen as a distinct cell population above the lymphocytes, which indicated that most of the cells were larger than lymphocytes and had weak myeloperoxidase staining. This distinct cell cluster appeared to be of a single cell type but was incorrectly divided by the ADVIA 2120 into lymphocytes, monocytes, and large unstained cells (LUC).

The total leukocyte counts on the ADVIA 2120 WBC basophil (BASO) channel were much higher than that on the WBC PEROX count. The WBC BASO cytogram appeared abnormal with two parallel cell populations, so the BASO WBC count was considered erroneous. Polymerase chain reaction and DNA sequencing verified H canis infection.

The dog was treated with subcutaneous imidocarb dipropionate (6 mg/kg) injections every other week. Post‐treatment hematology analyses indicated that the percentage of parasitized leukocytes decreased from 40% to 5% about 4 weeks after the start of treatment and were not found in any monocytes 6 weeks after the beginning of the treatment.

In conclusion, H canis infection in this dog was associated with a strong monocytosis, and gamonts were present in many monocytes, which caused aberrant automated leukocyte counts to occur.

Link to the publication


Lilliehöök, I, Tvedten, HW, Pettersson, HK, Baneth, G. Hepatozoon canis infection causing a strong monocytosis with intra‐monocytic gamonts and leading to erroneous leukocyte determinations. Vet Clin Pathol. 2019; 48: 435– 440.


Inger Lilliehöök

Professor at the Department of Clinical Sciences; Clinical Pathology Unit                                    

Telephone: 018-671616