News : 2013 : January

APP Testing for Elephants with EEHV Infection

On January 28 and 29 more than 70 participants from 6 countries gathered in Houston for the 9th Annual International EEHV workshop sponsored by The International Elephant Foundation and the Houston Zoo. At the Houston workshop, veterinarians, virologists, epidemiologists, immunologists, elephant care specialists, and administrators presented 16 research papers reporting advances in EEHV research, epidemiology and clinical management. EEHV is the leading cause of death in young elephants under human care and many cases have been confirmed in wild elephants. This infection is a significant threat to the already endangered species.

Among the advancements reported at the two day conference, Dr. Paul Ling of Baylor College of Medicine’s (BCM) Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology, and the lead researcher for the 3 year old Houston Zoo/BCM EEHV research collaboration, presented findings of field studies that detected EEHV presence among healthy wild Asian elephants in India. Dr. Ling’s data and additional research presented at the conference by Dr. Simon Long at Johns Hopkins University demonstrated that EEHV is widespread in Asian range countries and that Asian elephants appear to be ancient natural hosts of EEHV. Dr. Ramiro Isaza of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine reported preliminary findings of a multiyear molecular screening and epidemiological investigation that found no significant association between EEHV occurrence in Asian elephants and exposure to African elephants. Both findings argue strongly against the previously suggested notion that EEHV is only a disease of elephants in the care of humans and that the virus crossed recently from African elephant hosts to Asian elephants.

Dr. Carolyn Cray of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Division of Comparative Pathology presented findings of the application of acute phase protein biomarkers for the detection of inflammation which accompanies high levels of viral infection. This novel application and other test options provide a foundation of highly sensitive diagnostic tests permitting routine monitoring of domestic and wild elephant populations that allow earlier treatment of elephants demonstrating EEHV symptoms, and establishment of treatment protocols that combine antiviral drug therapy with intensive supportive care.

For more information regarding EEHV, visit EEHV Info.com.

See also the Proceedings from the 2013 meeting.