Over a period of three weeks about 9000 full blood counts were analysed on the Technicon H6000 automated haematology machine. From these, 62 patients were identified who had abnormally high numbers of large unstained white cells; these patients were followed up for evidence of viral infection. Seventeen were either lost to follow up or in chronic renal failure; of the remaining 45 patients, 40 had viral infections, 26 of which were due to Epstein-Barr virus. In the presence of a raised number of large unstained white cells, an IgM test for Epstein-Barr virus is recommended, followed by routine serology when necessary.
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