Sally A. Nofs1, DVM; Joseph Hicks1,2, BS; Paul Ling1, PhD
Elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) can cause fatal disease in endangered Asian elephants (Elephas maximus), though latent infection and shedding appears common in normal animals in captivity and in range countries. EEHVs have been noted in captive African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in necropsy samples and in wild African elephants recently surveyed for endogenous viruses via trunk nodule biopsy. The prevalence and type of latent EEHV infection in healthy captive African elephants is relatively unknown. To address this issue, trunk wash samples were collected from two African elephant herds. DNA extraction and qPCR was performed for EEHVs 1, 2, 3/4, 5, and 6. Preliminary results indicate that in one herd, 4 of 6 elephants were positive for EEHV 3/4. One elephant in this herd was positive for EEHV 1 and had previously been housed with Asian elephants. Each animal in the second herd was only positive for EEHV 6, although the sample timeline was very limited. Further collection for DNA sequencing will differentiate between EEHV 3 and 4, and characterize it along with the EEHV 1 and EEHV 6 shed by the other elephants.