Objective - To describe and quantify morphologic abnormalities in RBCs of mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) with experimentally induced zinc toxicosis. Animals - 120 female mallards. Procedure - Farm-raised mallards (6 to 8 months old) were used in the study. On day 0, 60 ducks received shot pellets orally by gavage (mean dose of zinc, 0.97 g); another 60 ducks underwent the same procedure without administration of pellets. On day 15, Romanowsky-stained blood smears were prepared from 53 control and 45 zinc-treated ducks (smears were examined retrospectively). In each smear, 200 RBCs were examined and numbers of erythrocytes with abnormal size, shape, or color were expressed as a percentage. Results were compared with PCV values and zinc dose. Results - Mean PCV value was lower in all zinc-treated ducks, compared with control ducks, and was lower in zinc-treated ducks that died or were euthanatized before day 30 because of severe clinical disease, compared with those that survived. Zinc-treated ducks that survived had a high percentage of polychromatophilic RBCs, and those that that died before day 30 had high percentages of hypochromic RBCs, fusiform RBCs, and RBC nuclear abnormalities. There was no correlation between PCV value or RBC morphologic abnormalities and dose of zinc. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance - In ducks with severe zinc-induced hemolysis, findings indicated that functional iron deficiency may impair the effectiveness of the erythroid regenerative response and contribute to death. Erythrocyte nuclear abnormalities were consistent with mild dyserythropoiesis. These findings may be applicable to effects of other metal toxicoses and regenerative anemias in birds.
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