Herpes suspected to have killed jumbo calf in Kerala forest

The death of a two-year-old elephant in Wayanad forest in Kerala is suspected to be due to herpes, a deadly infectious disease.

Thiruvananthapuram: The death of a two-year-old elephant in Wayanad forest in Kerala is suspected to be due to herpes, a deadly infectious disease.

Samples of the male calf's carcass has been sent to Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences College in Pookkot in Wayanad for analysis and confirmation to ascertain if herpes virus was the cause of the death, a senior faculty of the college said.

The carcass of the calf was spotted in Thirunelli forests last week.

Though the exact cause of the death was yet to be ascertained, the primary assessment was that the calf was suspected to have been infected with Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpes Virus (EEHV), he said.

Though carcasses of two other elephants were also found in various forest ranges in the district earlier this month, no symptoms of EEHV were visible on them, said Arun Zachariah, an assistant professor with Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University in Pookode.

"Detailed examination of the carcass is going on and we are yet to confirm the presence of the deadly virus. Based on the primary symptoms, we suspect that EEHV caused to its death," Zachariah said.

Though it was a infectious disease, the situation was not alarming as no reports suggesting its spread in Wayanad had been received, he said.

The carcass of two other elephants, both adults, were spotted in Tholpetti and Chitalayam ranges.

A DNA virus, EEHV normally affects jumbo calves.

Apart from Wayanad, the presence of the virus has been reported sporadically from Thekkadi and Kodanad since 2007.

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