Wild elephants continue to be at risk due to habitat depletion and illegal poaching for ivory. Unfortunately, there’s another problem as well, in the form of a virus called EEHV (elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus). Researchers are trying to understand EEHV in an attempt to save captive and wild elephants, and so far, it looks like it’s working.
EEHV was first discovered in 1995, and it’s been found that different forms of the virus have affected both Asian and African elephants. But by studying the virus and careful testing, veterinarians and scientists have been able to dramatically increase the odds of survival. It’s estimated that between 1978 and 2008, EEHV killed almost 20% of Asian elephant calves born in the United States, but thanks to increased understanding and surveillance since then, there have only been two fatalities since 2008.
As EEHV affects both captive and wild elephants, and wild elephant populations are threatened, an understanding of this disease is important to conservation efforts. Read more about this research here.