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Saving Baby Elephants from a Lethal Virus

Author(s): Paul D. Ling, Ph.D.

Why Am I Involved?

One of six elephant deaths at the Houston Zoo caused by EEHV.

Members of the Ling laboratory at Baylor College of Medicine study the biology and molecular biology of gammaherpesviruses, a subfamily of herpesviruses that is associated with several malignancies in humans and other animals.

Beginning in 2009, the Ling laboratory established a unique collaboration with the Houston Zoo to investigate EEHV, which can cause lethal hemorrhagic disease to endangered Asian elephants. 

“Who wouldn’t want to save baby elephants?”

A critical component for saving the elephants in sanctuaries and habitats is because due to habitat loss and poaching of ivory, Asian elephants are an endangered species. 

Conservation Status of Elephants

Asian elephant (Elephas maximus)

  • Sumatran elephant (E. maximus sumatranus) – Critically endangered
  • Indian elephant (E. maximus indicus) – Endangered
  • Sri Lankan elephant (E. maximus maximus) – Endangered

African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana) – Vulnerable

  • African forest elephant (L. cyclotis) – Vulnerable

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    Paul D. Ling, Ph.D., a microbiologist at Baylor College of Medicine, is a leading global expert on Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV), a disease that is killing baby Asian elephants. Join him as he discusses the virus, key discoveries, and a treatment protocol developed by his research team which keeps the elephants alive.

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Funded by the following grant(s)

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH

Development of the Science of Infectious Diseases teaching materials and video resources was supported in part by funds from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, grant numbers R25AI084826 and 4R25AI097453.