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Top 5 Viral diseases of elephants


Animal diseases

Top 5 Viral diseases of elephants

For many years, both because of their texture and size, elephants have been commonly associated with health and longevity. However, they can also get sick. To show you, below we will tell you about 5 viral diseases of elephants.

Although not often think about it, the reality is that no living being is completely free of disease at some time in his life.

The endothelotropic herpes virus of the elephant

Herpesviruses cause infections in most mammalian species. The definitive hosts of the virus – African elephants – are rarely severely affected. But intermediate hosts – Asian elephants – do suffer from the disease.

Transmission and symptoms

The herpesvirus enters by air, lodging in the pulmonary nodules of asymptomatic form. In those animals that causes the disease causes lethargy, anorexia and colic. Later edemas may appear on the head, trunk and forelimbs.

The real problem occurs when the disease is complicated by hemorrhagic lesions that are usually fatal.

5 viral diseases of elephants: encephalomyocarditis

It is a natural disease of rodents, which act as a reservoir. But the most serious forms affect many other mammals, both wild and domestic. Among them, the African elephant and the Asian elephant.

The causative virus is a Cardiovirus, from the family of Picornaviridae. It replicates in myocardial cells causing tissue damage such that it ends them.

Transmission and symptoms

The infection usually occurs fecal-orally through contaminated food or water. But then it is not transmissible among elephants.

The usual clinical sign is sudden death due to heart failure. But in less acute cases, anorexia, lethargy and respiratory distress due to cardiac congestion can be seen.

Slaughter of 100 elephants in Botswana

Aphtose fever

We are faced with a very contagious but rarely fatal viral disease. The problem is that it affects cattle massively and that is why the claim is to eradicate it. Within wild animals, they affect both ruminants and non-ruminants, including captive elephants.

The causative agent is an aftavirus of the family of Picornaviridae.

viral of the elephants

Transmission and symptoms

The route of transmission is respiratory or direct contact with infected animals or objects.

It is an infection that involves vesicular and erosive lesions of the oral mucosa and the skin of the extremities. The incubation period lasts up to 5 days, where the animal is depressed and feverish. From there the clinical signs begin to appear in the oral mucosa, increasing salivation and even pus.

5 viral diseases of elephants: smallpox

It is a viral disease that is characterized by inflammation of the skin and mucous membranes of the entire body. This inflammation gets worse over time so that pustules and painful ulcers appear.

The causative virus is a Orthopoxvirus sp. It can be considered a zoonosis that affects humans and animals. In fact it is considered that its origin in elephants derives from its use as an attraction for children in European zoos.

Elephants usually suffer from simple conjunctivitis, to a systemic disease that ends up being fatal.

5 viral diseases of elephants: rabies

The virus that causes this important disease is a Lisavirus of the family of Rhabdoviridae. It is distributed throughout the planet and can affect almost all species of mammals.

Transmission and symptoms

Transmission is through the contact of the saliva of an infected animal with the blood of another. That is, it usually occurs thanks to a bite.

The main reservoirs are carnivores and chiroptera.

An elephant affected by rage will start showing slight signs, then progress towards an absolute change in behavior. At first there will be excitement and aggressiveness, disorientation and lack of coordination. Then it will go to a paralytic phase, and can even reach the coma. Until the neuronal damage is such that the death of the animal occurs.

Differential diagnosis

During diagnosis, rabies should be considered to be differentiated from any neurological disease. It is the case of tetanus or botulism. But also other problems that affect the central nervous system, such as a blow or a shot.

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