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Saving Baby Elephants from a Lethal Virus

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

Blood Samples and Trunk Washes

Regular blood draws and trunk washes are done to catch an infection before it turns deadly. 

Blood samples are taken directly from a blood vessel in an elephant’s ear. 

Trunk washes involve lifting the trunk up and flushing a sterile saline solution into one nostril. A one-gallon plastic bag is placed over the tip of the trunk. The trunk is lowered so that fluids drain out of the trunk and into the bag, which are then sent for processing in a lab.

Retrospective of other cases suggest that low levels of virus in blood is detectable up to 10 days before clinical signs emerge. 

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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.