The female elephant Tonya did not die of herpes virus


08. 04. 2014

The results from several laboratories around the world have shown that the female elephant Tonya did not die of herpes virus at the end of last year. She succumbed to an acute bacterial infection.

Tonya. Photo: Tomáš Adamec, Prague Zoo Tonya. Photo: Tomáš Adamec, Prague Zoo

The young female elephant died last December. The disease appeared suddenly and the symptoms were severe. She collapsed and fell into agony. “If it were a bacterial infection, we could have treated her, but the results would have been unpredictable due to the rapid and dramatic development of the disease, ” Miroslav Bobek, the Prague Zoo director, said.

First the veterinarians thought, that the female suffered by herpes virus, called EEHV (Elephant endotheliotropic herpes virus), which is practically untreatable. However, the analysis of the tissue samples conducted in Prague, Netherlands and Great Britain has not revealed the presence of herpes virus.

“Although the analyses, conducted in three countries, have shown that Tonya died of acute bacterial infection, caused by hemolytic E coli, the peril of herpes virus is hanging over the entire breeding of Asian elephants like the Sword of Damocles. We are happy that we can contribute at least in a small part to its reduction or complete elimination,” Miroslav Bobek concluded.

Prague Zoo will contribute 100,000 Czech Crowns to support research into this insidious virus.