Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus Impact in the European Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) Population: Are Hereditability and Zoo-Associated Factors Linked with Mortality?
Sónia A. Jesus | Marcus G. Doherr | Thomas B. Hildebrandt
EEHV is a ubiquitous virus, which most likely has co-evolved with elephants and is shed by healthy individuals and maintained in the herds. Yet, the factors determining calf susceptibility to the virus remain unknown. Here, we explored the impact of EEHV-HD in the European captive Asian elephant population in a retrospective statistical study spanning the last 35 years. We show that EEHV-HD was implicated in more than half of all deaths recorded in calves older than one months old. Moreover, the median age across EEHV-HD fatalities was significantly lower compared to other death causes. Finally, we investigated if heredity and zoo-associated factors could be linked to a higher susceptibility of calves to this disease. We used a univariable logistic regression model to evaluate if either fathers, mothers, or zoos could, separately, be considered as risk factors to the development of the disease. Afterwards, we used a two multivariable model, combining: (1) fathers and zoos, and (2) mothers and zoos. Overall, we found that two fathers, one mother, and four zoos had three or more times higher risk of their calves becoming sick when compared to all others, pointing us to the presence of a management or environmental element, which can have paternal and maternal influence and leads to calf susceptibility or resistance to EEHV-HD.Show more [+] Less [-]