TitleWhat is your diagnosis? Blood smear from an injured red-tailed hawk.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsJohns, JL, Luff, JA, Shooshtari, MP, Zehnder, AM, Borjesson, DL
JournalVet Clin Pathol
Date Published2009 Jun
KeywordsAnimals, Bird Diseases, Chlamydophila Infections, Chlamydophila psittaci, Fatal Outcome, Hawks

An injured juvenile red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) was evaluated at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis. The hawk was quiet, alert, and emaciated, and had a closed comminuted, mid-diaphyseal ulnar fracture. CBC results included heterophilia with a left shift, monocytosis, and increased plasma fibrinogen concentration. The blood smear included rare heterophils containing small, dark blue inclusions approximately 1-2 mum in diameter that ranged from round to coccobacillary in shape and formed variably shaped aggregates; the morphology of the inclusions was suspicious for Chlamydophila or Ehrlichia spp. pathogens. The hawk died, and histopathologic examination of tissues obtained at necropsy found severe multifocal histiocytic and heterophilic splenitis in addition to chronic hepatitis, myocarditis and epicarditis, meningoencephalitis, and airsacculitis. Using immunohistochemistry the presence of Chlamydia/Chlamydophila spp. antigen within multiple tissues was confirmed. Chlamydophila psittaci DNA was demonstrated in whole blood and fresh splenic tissue via real-time PCR. Direct fluorescent antibody staining of air-dried blood smears was positive in rare leukocytes for Chlamydia/Chlamydophila spp. antigen, and immunocytochemical staining of blood smears for Chlamydia/Chlamydophila spp. antigen was focally positive in rare heterophils. These findings may represent the first reported diagnosis of natural avian C. psittaci infection by visualization of organisms in peripheral blood heterophils. Immunocytochemical evaluation of blood smears was valuable in confirming the diagnosis and may be a useful antemortem test to discriminate between bacteria and other inclusions within heterophils.

Alternate JournalVet Clin Pathol
PubMed ID19228359