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Sci Rep. 2014 Sep 9;4:6299. doi: 10.1038/srep06299.

First fatality associated with elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus 5 in an Asian elephant: pathological findings and complete viral genome sequence.

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MRC - University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, Glasgow G11 5JR, United Kingdom.
International Zoo Veterinary Group, Station House, Keighley BD21 4NQ, United Kingdom.
Twycross Zoo - East Midland Zoological Society, Atherstone CV9 3PX, United Kingdom.
1] Virology Department, Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency Weybridge, Addlestone KT15 3NB, United Kingdom [2] School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Surrey, Guildford GU2 7TE, United Kingdom.
Virology Department, Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency Weybridge, Addlestone KT15 3NB, United Kingdom.


Infections of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) with elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) can cause a rapid, highly lethal, hemorrhagic disease, which primarily affects juvenile animals up to the age of four years. So far, the majority of deaths have been attributed to infections with genotype EEHV1 or, more rarely, EEHV3 and EEHV4. Here, we report the pathological characteristics of the first fatality linked to EEHV5 infection, and describe the complete viral DNA sequence. Gross post-mortem and histological findings were indistinguishable from lethal cases previously attributed to other EEHV genotypes, and the presence of characteristic herpesviral inclusions in capillary endothelial cells at several sites was consistent with the diagnosis of acute EEHV infection. Molecular analysis confirmed the presence of EEHV5 DNA and was followed by sequencing of the viral genome directly from post-mortem material. The genome is 180,800 bp in size and contains 120 predicted protein-coding genes, five of which are fragmented and presumably nonfunctional. The seven families of paralogous genes recognized in EEHV1 are also represented in EEHV5. The overall degree of divergence (37%) between the EEHV5 and EEHV1 genomes, and phylogenetic analysis of eight conserved genes, support the proposed classification of EEHV5 into a new species (Elephantid herpesvirus 5).

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