Elephant camp in Kerala on alert as calves contract deadly virus

Recent death of calf at Kottoor attributed to EEHV; two more diagnosed with infection

Published - July 02, 2021 09:02 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

The elephant rehabilitation centre in Kottoor is on high alert following the death of an elephant calf due to elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) and the diagnoses of the infection in two others. The first casualty of the deadly virus at the centre was Sreekutty, aged one year and seven months. The calf died on June 28. The State Institute of Animal Diseases, Palode, confirmed the disease on Thursday.

Worryingly, two other calves, Kannan and Amena, both aged below four years, have been detected with the virus with the former displaying acute symptoms of the disease.


Both elephants, along with the youngest calf, Raju, have been quarantined separately at the centre. They were among the 10 calves tested for the virus a day ago. Their trunk wash samples were collected for the purpose.

Kannan has been showing decreased appetite and sluggishness for the last few days, while Amena’s health condition has remained stable. Amena had resided in close proximity with Sreekutty, official sources said.

Forest officials are yet to conduct epidemiology studies that are vital in understanding the source of the disease transmission. The possibility of an adult elephant being the carrier is yet to be ruled out.

Expert team in place

In view of the situation, the department has constituted an expert team to monitor the outbreak. The team comprises Kudappanakunnu Multidisciplinary Veterinary Hospital assistant director T. Rajeev, Thiruvananthapuram Zoo senior veterinary surgeon Jacob Alexander, forest veterinary officers Shiju S.V. and Shyam Chandran, and Thiruvananthapuram Wildlife Warden J.R. Ani.

They pin their hopes on the early administering of the antiviral drug acyclovir to the other calves soon after symptoms were detected in Sreekutty.

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