I just returned from the hospital where I underwent an emergency appendectomy. The diagnostic lab work didn't show any rise in my white count which would have indicated the infection, especially given the severity of the case. This had both my PCP and surgeon surprised. I've been on Avonex since 2005. Could this therapy be buffering the rise in the white count when I have an infection therefore rendering the test useless as a way to gauge infection within my body?
Avonex and all beta interferons can lower your white blood count (WBC), but would not usually blunt the normal rise in your WBC associated with infection. Some people, especially older people, do not mount a strong immune response with a high WBC. Literature suggests that 10-30 % of patients with appendicitis present with a WBC under 10,000 anyway.
If your total WBC and the different types of white blood cells were normal before the appendicitis, I don’t think you can attribute this to Avonex treatment.
Revere (Rip) Kinkel MD
Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Program
Professor of Clinical Neurosciences
University of California San Diego