Elephant Care

Elephant Care

EEVH in Elephants

EEHV is the single greatest health threat to the Asian elephant today.

Young Asian elephants are especially vulnerable to EEHV, as about half the deaths of young elephants in captivity are attributed to the disease. EEHV is a herpes virus, and as with human herpes viruses, can go latent after the primary infection. Most elephants seem to be latently infected by EEHV and shed the virus occasionally throughout their lives, as humans do with their herpes viruses. EEHV will not infect humans, and conversely, human herpes viruses will not infect elephants.

EEHV infects only elephants and usually has a fatal outcome within a week of onset of symptoms, which include head and neck swelling, tongue cyanosis and lethargy. Elephants with EEHV symptoms are immediately started on famciclovir or ganciclovir (anti-herpes drugs used in humans) to increase their chance of survival.

Researchers have confirmed that EEHV is also found in elephants in the wild. There have been about 20 deaths attributed to EEHV in Asian countries; EEHV is also found in skin and lung nodules in wild African elephants.

Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation® supports EEHV research both financially and through the donation of samples from our elephants.

Tuberculosis (TB) in Elephants

We take tuberculosis (TB) very seriously at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®. The veterinary team is a member of the animal husbandry industry’s Elephant TB Working Group, which has been in existence for a number of years and includes representatives from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZV), Busch Gardens, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Ringling Bros. has collaborated with these and other groups and offered recommendations for diagnosis, treatment, prevention and control of TB in captive elephant populations.

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