Elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus hemorrhagic disease (EEHV HD) is an acute viral infection of growing Asian elephants (Elephas maximus). Four apparently healthy subadult Asian elephants aged between 6 and 10 yr at Nandankanan Zoological Park (NKZP), India, died of EEHV HD during August–September 2019. All four elephants were rescued from different reserved forests of Odisha state at less than 1 yr of age and hand reared in the NKZP. Elephants exhibited the clinical signs of lethargy, head swelling, fever, loss of appetite, abdominal distension, scant urination and defecation, signs of colic, lameness, trunk discharge, cyanosis/ulceration of tongue, erratic behavior, and recumbence before death. Period of illness varied between 28 and 42 h. Thrombocytopenia was the common significant hematological observation. No significant biochemical alterations were recorded except for higher creatinine concentrations. Analysis of blood samples in RT-PCR assay using two different sets of primers and probes that targeted terminase gene and major DNA-binding protein gene followed by cPCR and sequencing was positive for EEHV-1A in all four animals. Postmortem examination of all four carcasses showed hemorrhages in internal organs, including the hard palate, heart, lungs, stomach, mesenteric lymph nodes, mesentery, colon serosa, spleen, liver, kidney, and meninges. Histopathology showed congestion and/or hemorrhages in heart, lung, brain, kidney, and liver. There was presence of intranuclear inclusion bodies in the sinusoidal epithelial cells. The outbreak of EEHV HD that resulted in the acute death of four juvenile captive Asian elephants within <30 d, the first of its kind documented in India, is increasing the fear of similar outbreaks in the future.
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