Haematological aberrations associated with human infective trypanosomes were investigated in the vervet monkey model of the Rhodesian sleeping sickness. Four monkeys were infected intravenously with 104 Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense
and monitored for changes in the blood profile using a haematological analyser. A chronic infection lasting between 48 and 112 days was observed. Microcytic hypochromic anaemia, which was characterized by a decline in packed cell volume (PCV), red blood cell (RBC) numbers, mean corpuscular volume (MCV) and mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration (MCH) developed at an early stage, and persisted throughout the infection. The mean platelet counts declined significantly from 3 x 105
/μl (day 0 post infection) to 6.8 x 104
/μl (day 7 post infection) and remained low in all the animals. However, the mean platelets volume rose during the course of the infection. An initial decline in total white blood cell (WBC) counts occurred between day 0 and 7 (3.1 x 106
/μl) and remained low up to day 35 post infection (3.5 x 106
/μl). This was followed by an increase in WBC counts, principally associated with increased lymphocyte numbers. It is concluded that microcytic hypochromic anaemia, thrombocytopaenia and an initial leucocytopaenia are the most important haematological changes associated with a chronic infection of T.b. rhodesiense
infection in vervet monkeys.