This epidemiologic study follows a 5-yr-old male African elephant (Loxodonta africana) during an episode of hemorrhagic disease (HD) due to elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus 3B (EEHV3B) utilizing data from complete blood counts, electrophoresis and acute phase protein analysis, and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of multiple body fluids during and after the clinical episode. The elephant presented with sudden onset of marked lethargy and inappetence followed by hypersalivation, hyperemia of the conjunctivae and focally on the tongue, and swellings on the head and ventrum. A moderate leukocytopenia with band neutrophilia, lymphopenia, monocytopenia, and thrombocytophilia was followed by a rise in all three cell types by day 10. Moderate increases in serum amyloid A and C-reactive protein were noted in the first weeks of illness. Conventional PCR of whole blood yielded a strong positive result for EEHV3B. Quantitative PCR revealed moderate viremia, which slowly returned to undetectable levels by day 35 of treatment. EEHV3B was shed in trunk wash samples starting at day 22 for 10 days at moderate levels, and then at low levels for up to 8.5 mo. All three female herd mates shed low levels of EEHV3B in trunk washes intermittently starting from day 28 of the calf's illness until over 7 mo afterward. The majority of saliva samples from the calf over the 8.5-mo period were also positive for EEHV3B. A subfraction of saliva samples from a female herdmate was positive from days 127–190 following disease onset in the calf. Four elephant gammaherpesviruses were detected sporadically from the calf and female herdmates during this same time period. Treatment was started at the onset of clinical signs and consisted of rectal and oral fluids and oral famciclovir. This is the first case of EEHV3B HD in an elephant species and the first thorough epidemiologic evaluation of EEHV HD in an African elephant.
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