Dec 18, 2018 | Updated: 09:51 PM EST

Elephant Herpes Virus: Find Out Why The Disease Endangers Young Elephants

May 07, 2017 02:35 PM EDT


Elephant herpes virus is described to have different types. The virus might cause an infection leading to deaths of young elephants.

According to Phys Org, the carriers of elephant herpes virus types 1, 4 and 5 were commonly mentioned to be Asian elephants. On the other hand, types 2, 3 and 6 of the virus was noted to be carried by African elephants. The first carrier Asian elephants were considered more dangerous than the latter due to its virus inflicting animals in wildlife and zoos worldwide.

With that said, it was mentioned that the doctors and zookeepers use trunk washing process to identify whether the elephants are inflicted with the elephant herpes virus. “Elephants can be trained to have their trunks flushed with a physiologic salt solution," Jean-Michel Hatt, director of the Clinic for Zoo Animals, Exotic Pets and Wildlife at UZH, explained.

"In the process, they lift their trunks briefly so that the liquid can flow to the back as far as possible and then they drain it into a bucket," Hatt added. The elephant herpes virus was described to cause microscopic holes in a host’s blood vessels. Afterward, fluids leak from the vessels as Chron reported.

Virologist Mathias Ackermann shared that the elephant herpes virus is no ordinary zoo disease but is eminent in Africa and Asia’s wild as well. Ackermann then concluded that the placement of animals in a zoo is important to prevent the spread of the virus. He also added that regular testing is a must to avoid breakout of the disease.

Nonetheless, it was reported that two elephants were saved from the verge of death. Due to the early detection of Houston Zoo’s staff along with the Baylor College of Medicine, the two baby elephants named Tupelo and Baylor. Both the babies were cited to be diagnosed with a strain of elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus. External symptoms of the virus were described to be swollen heads, discolored tongues, and bloodshot eyes.

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