Saving Baby Elephants from a Lethal Virus
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.
Keywords: Asian elephant | EEHV | EEHV diagnosis | EEHV treatment | blood samples | elephant herpesvirus | endotheliotropic herpesvirus | trunk washes
- Paul D. Ling, Ph.D., Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology, Baylor College of Medicine.
- Photos © Houston Zoo, Inc. Used with permission.
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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.
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)
Development of The index Elephant 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 R25 AI084826 and R25 AI097453.