The immunologic effects of lead were measured in game-farm mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) that ingested lead shot while foraging naturally, mallards intubated with lead shot, and unexposed controls. Circulating white blood cells (WBC) declined significantly in male mallards exposed to lead by either natural ingestion or intubation, but not females. Spleen plaque-forming cell (SPFC) counts were significantly lower in mallards intubated with lead pellets compared to controls. Declines in WBC and SPFC means with increasing tissue lead concentrations provide further evidence that lead exposure reduced immunologic cell numbers. Hormonal activity and diet may have influenced the immunologic effects of lead exposure in this study.
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Vol. 27 • No. 1