A failure to conduct a thorough probe of different strains of Herpes virus in elephants may rob Kerala’s forests of all baby elephants, warns a state forest department veterinarian.
The herpes virus that killed 26 elephants over the past 10 years, mostly young ones, both in the wild and captive, had different strains depending on the region they were in like Munnar, Wayanad and Nilambur, the Times of India reports.
In a paper titled `Impact of diseases in wildlife conservation’ at the sixth international conference on NextGen Genomics, Biology , Bioinformatics and Technologies (NGBT) in Kochi, veterinarian Arun Zachariah said that this information came when a full DNA sequencing of the virus found in the elephants was done and analysed. “We are now doing a detailed analysis of the genetic profile of the virus,” he added.
He said the animals died within 48 hours of contracting the virus. “We spent several days monitoring the animals in the wild and realized that the virus was oozing out in the trunk leaks of adult elephants which infected the young ones in the herd. We are trying to understand the relation between the three parameters, pathogen (virus), host (elephants) and environment (climate), and what is the causative trigger,” he said.