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Third Indianapolis Zoo elephant contracts deadly virus that has killed two this year

Kedar 2.jpg
Kedar the elephant.jpg
Posted at 3:52 PM, May 09, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Zoo informed the public on Thursday that a third African elephant has contracted a deadly virus that has already killed two other elephants at the zoo in March.

The third elephant is 13-year-old Kedar. The male elephant is confirmed to have tested positive for the Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV) this week, the same virus that killed Nyah and Kalina.

Zoo veterinarians had previously tested Kedar's blood on Thursday, May 2, and the results were negative. Although, they tested the elephant again on Friday, May 3, and the results were positive for EEHV. According to the zoo, they immediately started Kedar on antiviral medication and aggressive treatment.

The EEHV virus causes fatal hemorrhagic in elephants, mainly Asian elephants, according to the zoo. Due to the illness being uncommon in African elephants, there was not a protocol at hand for the Indianapolis Zoo veterinarians.

This particular virus has multiple strains with high fatality rates and is one of the most devastating viral diseased in elephants worldwide in zoos, sanctuaries and the wild.

"Kedar is receiving aggressive treatment to help him fight the virus," Dr. Rob Shumaker, zoo president said." Our veterinary team has consulted with other experts who have dealt with this dreadful disease, and the best possible care is being provided to Kedar."

There is no vaccine for EEHV, and it's not preventable. Although, with early detection and aggressive treatment, there have been a few cases where elephants have survived the disease.

Other animals, and humans can not contract the disease. The Indianapolis Zoo tests all of their elephants twice a week since the disease was identified.

Scientists have not been able to determine why the EEHV has become suddenly active from its dormant phase, nor why it became active in Nyah, Kalina and Kedar.