Article

BASELINE PHYSIOLOGIC AND HEMATOLOGIC HEALTH IN WILD-CAUGHT MUSKRATS (ONDATRA ZIBETHICUS) FROM A NEAR-PRISTINE ECOSYSTEM IN NORTHERN MINNESOTA

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Abstract

Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) populations show long-term and widespread declines across North America, necessitating research into potential mechanistic explanations, including population health. Previous research established reference hematology values, a proxy of individual health, of muskrats occurring in highly modified ecosystems. However, our knowledge of hematology metrics in muskrat populations occurring in more natural ecosystems is limited. We measured several hematological parameters of wild-caught muskrats (n = 73) in the Greater Voyageurs Ecosystem in northern Minnesota in 2018-2019 to establish baseline muskrat health in a relatively intact, near-pristine ecosystem. Additionally, we measured rectal temperature and heart and respiratory rates and collected whole blood for complete blood cell count assessment. We established baseline physiologic and hematologic reference ranges for the population and describe variations between total white blood cells, nucleated cell differentials, and basic erythron and platelet estimates and demonstrate methods of estimation to be poor proxies for more standardized counting methods. Our results establish a baseline to compare muskrat health assessments for populations affected by landscape change or in decline.

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Technical Report
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SummaryA protocol was presented for uniform evaluation and reporting of hematologic data in veterinary clinical laboratories. The protocol was used in the Clinical Pathology Labora-tory at Michigan State University for 2 years and was found to improve the recognition and quantification of morphologic changes in blood smears.
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To determine diagnostic accuracy of using erythrocyte indices and polychromasia to identify regenerative anemia in dogs. Retrospective and prospective cross-sectional study. 4,521 anemic dogs. CBC results obtained between July 2002 and July 2008 by use of an automated laser-based flow cytometric hematology analyzer from dogs with Hct values ≤ 35% were retrieved. Sensitivity, specificity, accuracy, and predictive values of using erythrocyte indices and polychromasia to identify regeneration were determined, with a reticulocyte count > 65,000 reticulocytes/μL considered the gold standard. Similarly, 134 blood samples from anemic dogs were analyzed prospectively with an in-house electrical impedance analyzer. Of 4,387 dogs with samples analyzed retrospectively, 1,426 (32.5%) had regenerative anemia. Of these, 168 (11.8%) had macrocytic hypochromic anemia. High mean cell volume and low mean cell hemoglobin concentration had low sensitivity (11%), high specificity (98%), and moderate accuracy (70%) when used to identify regenerative anemia. Use of polychromasia alone had an accuracy of 77%, and use of polychromasia combined with a high RBC distribution width (RDW) had an accuracy of 79%. Results obtained with the in-house analyzer were similar. Results suggested that most regenerative anemias in dogs were not macrocytic hypochromic. Polychromasia, with or without high RDW, was a more accurate indicator than other erythrocyte indices of regenerative anemia. To avoid a false diagnosis of nonregenerative anemia, a blood smear should be evaluated in anemic dogs when a reticulocyte count is not available.
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Serum chemistry values and complete blood counts were determined for 36 wild dusky-footed wood rats (Neotoma fuscipes) from Sonoma and western Yolo County, California (USA) in summer 1999 and spring 2001. All wood rats had adequate body condition and were hydrated. Many hematologic and biochemical values were comparable to those for house rat (Rattus rattus). There were differences between wood rats tested immediately after capture (those from Yolo County) and after a week of habituation in the laboratory (Sonoma County). Significant differences were noted in red blood cell counts, hemoglobin, hematocrit, neutrophil:lymphocyte ratio, glucose, alanine transaminase, aspartate aminotransferase, and alkaline phosphatase values. The neutrophil:lymphocyte ratio may have been iatrogenically modified in the wood rats tested immediately after capture by stress-induced neutrophilia and lymphopenia. Eosinophilia may have been associated with parasites such as botflies in four individuals, and hyperglycemia in three individuals could have been associated with stress. The cause of elevated enzymes in the animals tested after laboratory habituation is unclear. The hematologic and biochemical values of these apparently healthy wood rats provide valuable baseline information for use in further medical studies performed with this species.
Aquatic synthesis for Voyageurs National Park: U.S. Geological Survey, Information and
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