Leukopenia, or low white blood cell count, may be caused by diseases such as leukemia, AIDS, various types of liver disease, aplastic anemia and rheumatoid arthritis, according to Healthgrades. Other possible causes include taking certain medications, radiation exposure, chemotherapy and vitamin deficiency. In certain cases, no cause can be identified.
White blood cells play a key role in the immune system, explains Healthgrades. They are created in bone marrow and attack harmful foreign bodies, including viruses and bacteria. Consequently, a lower WBC count leaves the organism more vulnerable to infections.
The ramifications of low WBC count depend on a particular individual’s situation, notes Healthgrades. The normal range of WBC is 4,500 to 10,000 in one microliter of blood, and a count lower than 3,500 is usually considered low. However, the exact cut-off point depends on many factors, including the laboratory and the test that is used. Age, gender and the general level of health all influence the potential seriousness of a low WBC count.
In general, an individual with a low WBC count should avoid potential sources of infection and communicable disease, advises Healthgrades. If a low WBC count is accompanied by symptoms that include fever, a sore throat, lesions on the skin and lymph node swelling, it is necessary to seek medical attention right away.