Skip Navigation

Saving Baby Elephants from a Lethal Virus

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

Translational Project: Bench to Barn

EEHV is the leading cause of death in juvenile Asian elephants born in North America and is a major factor impeding efforts to establish robust breeding groups in captivity. The disease is also known to affect Asian elephants in range countries.

This “Bench to Barn” project is practically oriented and has three phases: 1) diagnostics, 2) treatments, and 3) vaccines. 

Progress towards short-term goals has been made through sequencing the EEHV genome, development of Quantitative Real Time Polymerases Chain Reaction (qPCR) diagnostic assays, developing tools to measure elephant immune responses; and finding a workable treatment protocol, which hydration therapy (giving the calf extra fluids), and initiating aggressive antiviral therapy. A sick elephant also may have to have blood transfusions.

Related Content

  • Invisible Threats

    Invisible Threats Teacher Guide

    How can something we cannot see harm us? How can we protect ourselves from getting a disease? Activities in the Invisible Threats guide will help you and your students learn about and understand infectious diseases—how they are contracted and prevented. (8 activities)

  • Saving Baby Elephants from a Lethal Virus (EEHV)

    Saving Baby Elephants from a Lethal Virus (EEHV) Video

    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.

  • The Index Elephant

    The Index Elephant Reading

    In this storybook, young students track a mysterious illness that is killing baby elephants. They learn how doctors and scientists identified the pathogen, found a treatment and are working to make a vaccine.

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.