Bhubaneswar, September 26 (LocalWire): With four captive pachyderms dying of deadly Elephant Endothliotropic Herpes viruses (EEHV) in less than a month, a two-member team of experts on Wednesday asked the Nandankanan Zoological Park (NZP) to improve sanitation and keep round the clock watch on the behavioral symptoms of elephants in the zoo.
The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) member-secretary S P Yadav and Herpes National Project coordinator Gouranga Mahato visited the zoo and inspected the health condition of four surviving elephants that are free from herpes infection.
“The experts emphasised on sanitation measures of the elephants’ habitat. They called for the burning and shifting of soil from the spots where the elephants mostly wander about.
This will save them from bacterial attack,” NZP deputy director Jayant Kumar Das told the LocalWire.
Nandankanan zoo had lost four elephants due to deadly herpes viral infection recently.
The viral infection was the first incident of herpes in any Indian zoo though there are reports of elephants dying of herpes in wild in Assam in the past.
“As no curative medicine or vaccine has so far been developed to deal with the deadly infection that attacks elephants only, we were advised by the expert team to administer anti-viral doses on daily basis to enhance the immunity level of four surviving elephants,” he stated.
As advised by them, the elephants have been quarantined and are being administered anti-viral doses.
“The United States has developed vaccines for countering EEHV.
The vaccine was administered on infected elephants in North America with partial success. Procuring vaccine from the US is not possible as it has prohibited its import to other countries,” Das said.
The EEHV is lethal and elephants are infected they have little chance of survival.
The virus quickly spreads to internal organs and causes damage to tissues, leading to the death of an elephant.
“As the virus spreads from one elephant to the other due to physical contact, segregating the elephants is the safest option for us to ensure the safety of the animals,” he said.
Das further informed that blood samples of four elephants are being sent to animal research wing of Orissa Agriculture University on a daily basis.
“Today’s report received by us in the evening has shown sign of herpes virus infection,” he added.
Odisha is home to about 1,976 elephants in the wild, 7% of India’s 27,312 elephant population. They are facing the threat of extinction mainly due to shrinkage of their natural habitat and poaching.