A form of deadly herpes is sweeping through American zoos, killing 1 in 5 Asian elephant calves born in the U.S. since 2000 according to a recent article in the New York Times.
It’s about suppression.
Researchers and zookeepers know almost nothing about the elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus including how it is spread, which elephants carry it, how to treat it or why it seems to kill only baby elephants. They have, however, begun to recognize some of the myriad symptoms: sluggishness, loss of appetite, swollen heads and pale, bruised tongues. From the time the symptoms are noticed, the elephant calves can be dead in a matter of days.
While antiviral drugs have had some positive results, particularly if the infection is diagnosed early, they have not worked in more instances. Asian elephant calves are still dying regularly from the disease. There are about 30,000 Asian elephants alive in the wild and only a few hundred in the zoos across the U.S. We’ll keep you posted on the researchers’ progress in curing this epidemic!