Evaluation of Platelet Transport in Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus) as Part of an Ongoing Study Targeting Novel EEHV-HD Treatment
2018 Joint EAZWV/AAZV/Leibniz-IZW Conference
Jennifer Kishbaugh1*, DVM; Janelle Ober2, MS; Christine Molter3, DVM, DACZM; Carlos Sanchez4, DVM, MSc; Suzan Murray1, DVM, DACZM; Anne S. Hale5, DVM
1Smithsonian Global Health Program, Smithsonian National Zoological Park and Conservation Biology Institute, Washington, DC, USA; 2Cellphire, Inc., Rockville, MD, USA; 3Houston Zoo, Inc., Houston, TX, USA; 4Fort Worth Zoo, Fort Worth, TX, USA; 5BodeVet, Inc., Rockville, MD, USA


In zoological medicine, platelet characterization and evaluation of coagulation parameters, such as thromboelastography, are of vital importance when treating hemostatic disorders, including elephant endotheliotropic herpes virus-hemorrhagic disease (EEHV-HD).2,5 Evaluations often rely on transport of platelets to specialty laboratories; however, platelets are difficult to transport, as iatrogenic activation of platelets can hinder evaluation. In pursuit of generating a platelet product to target treatment of EEHV-HD, Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) platelet characterization was performed on nine individuals. Whole blood was collected into ACD-A tubes and transferred in a Credo-style platelet transport system for transfer to a testing laboratory. Variables in the study included time from collection until analysis, ranging from 24 to 48 hours, and method of transport, either via routine courier or hand courier. Temperature was measured during transport and did not vary significantly, staying within acceptable ranges for cellular stability. No significant differences were observed in platelet counts, with an average of 305x103/µL platelets recovered, within previously reported ranges for Asian elephants.1,3,4 The platelets were viable for evaluation via aggregometry, thromboelastography, and flow cytometry. While platelets are often activated when handled, this method of transport did not appear to hinder evaluation of Asian elephant platelets, allowing for physical and bioactive characterization. Asian elephant platelets feature reversible aggregation, which may have played a role in their stability during transport, a factor to consider when submitting whole blood samples for analysis to specialty laboratories.


The authors would like to thank the member zoos for their collaboration, and the International Elephant Foundation for their support of this work.

Literature Cited

1.  Brown I, White P. 1980. Elephant blood haematology and chemistry. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part B: Comparative Biochemistry. 65:1–12.

2.  Chabert A, Hamzeh-Cognasse H, Pozzetto B, Cognasse F, Schattner M, Gomez RM, Garraud O. 2015. Human platelets and their capacity of binding viruses: meaning and challenges? BMC Immunology. 16:26.

3.  du Plessis L, Stevens K. 2002. Blood platelets of the African elephant. Journal of Comparative Pathology. 127:208–210.

4.  Silva ID, Kuruwita VY. 1993. Hematology, plasma, and serum biochemistry values in free-ranging elephants (Elephas maximus ceylonicus) in Sri Lanka. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine. 24:434–439.

5.  Zapata JC, Cox D, Salvato MS. 2014. The role of platelets in the pathogenesis of viral hemorrhagic fevers. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. 8:e2858.


Speaker Information
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Jennifer Kishbaugh, DVM
Smithsonian Global Health Program
Smithsonian National Zoological Park and Conservation Biology Institute
Washington, DC, USA

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