Reptile hematologic data provide important health information for conservation efforts of vulnerable wildlife species such as the Galapagos tortoise (Chelonoidis spp.). Given the reported discrepancies between manual leukocyte counts for nonmammalian species, two manual leukocyte quantification methods, the Natt and Herrick's (NH) and the Eopette (EO), were compared to white blood cell (WBC) estimates from blood films of 42 free-living, clinically healthy, adult female Galapagos tortoises. To investigate the effects of delay in sample processing, estimated WBC counts and leukocyte differentials were compared for blood films prepared at time of collection under field conditions (T0) to blood films prepared from samples that were stored for 18-23 hr at 4°C in the laboratory (T1). Passing-Bablok regression analysis revealed no constant or proportional error between the NH and WBC estimates (T0 and T1) with slopes of 1.1 and 0.9, respectively. However both constant and proportional errors were present between EO and WBC estimates (T0 and T1) with slopes of 3.1 and 2.7, respectively. Bland Altman plots also showed agreement between the NH and WBC estimates where the points fell within the confidence-interval limit lines and were evenly distributed about the mean. In contrast, the EO and WBC estimate comparisons showed numerous points above the upper limit line, especially at higher concentrations. WBC estimates obtained from T0 and T1 films were in agreement, whereas heterophil and monocyte percentages based on differentials were not. Cell morphology and preservation were superior in T0 blood films because thrombocytes exhibited swelling after storage, becoming difficult to differentiate from lymphocytes. In this study, the highest quality and most reliable hematologic data in Galapagos tortoises were obtained by combining immediate blood film preparation with the NH leukocyte quantification method and a confirmatory WBC estimate from the blood film.
Keywords: Chelonoidis spp; Eopette; Galapagos tortoise; Natt and Herrick's; manual leukocyte counts; reptiles.