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Lymphopenia is a reduction in the numbers of lymphocytes in the blood. This phenomenon is most commonly associated with stress (as part of the stress leucogram) or with viral infection. Causes include:
- Stress leucogram, characterised by neutrophilia, monocytosis, eosinopenia and lymphopenia. A similar pattern may occur with hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease) or exogenous corticosteroid therapy as these hormones selectively suppress lymphocytic activity and the inflammatory response in general.
- Viral infection with canine distemper, Infectious canine hepatitis, feline infectious enteritis or bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD)
- Bone marrow suppression caused by chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Since neutrophils have a much shorter circulating half life, they are the first cell line to fall with any insult to the bone marrow but lymphopenia may occur as part of a more severe pancytopenia.
- Inherited or acquired immunodeficiency syndromes, including SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Syndrome) in Arab foals and feline immunodeficiency virus infection.
- Leakage of lymphatic fluid may result in loss of lymphocytes, as occurs with lymphangiectasia or chylothorax.
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