Elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) causes a disease that primarily affects juvenile Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants, causing acute hemorrhage and death. Due to the severity of the disease, many zoos have developed EEHV active surveillance programs. Currently, trunk washes are the standard for testing elephants for shedding of EEHV, but it has also been detected from other mucosal surfaces. This study compared the efficacy of oral swabs and trunk washes for the detection of EEHV shedding using previously validated quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) methods. Oral swab and trunk wash samples from three juvenile elephants at the Dublin Zoo in Ireland were collected in tandem and tested from April to September 2017. Of the 51 paired samples, 21 trunk wash samples were positive for EEHV1, while only 2 of the oral swab samples were positive for EEHV1, suggesting that trunk wash samples are more effective for detecting shedding of EEHV in Asian elephants compared with oral swabs.
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