Posted: Mon 25th Mar 2019

Chester Zoo’s Indali is proving to be a real fighter as she continues to battle deadly virus

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Mar 25th, 2019

Chester Zoo has given an update on two-year-old elephant calf Indali Hi Way after being diagnosed with the life-threatening endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) last week.

“Conservationists are continuing to treat two-year-old elephant calf Indali Hi Way after she tested positive for EEHV during a routine blood test last week.

Experts have worked tirelessly over the past five days, and continue to do so, making sure she receives the best possible care.” A zoo spokesperson said today.

“Indali is showing some symptoms but has responded well to the range of treatments provided to her so far. Calves can become seriously dehydrated very quickly following the onset of EEHV.

However, keepers, vets and scientists say that Indali remains well hydrated with high levels of oxygen in her bloodstream – a positive sign.

We remain hopeful that we can help pull Indali through.” The spokesperson added.

Last October three-year-old Nandita Hi Way and 18-month-old Aayu Hi Way – two much-loved members of the zoo’s close-knit family herd of rare Asian elephants – both tested positive for the fast acting EEHV and died shortly afterwards.

EEHV is known to be present in almost all Asian elephants, both in the wild and in zoos across the globe, but only develops into an illness in some elephants.

Mike Jordan, Collections Director at the zoo, said:

“Our teams will continue to work around the clock to give Indali every possible chance of pulling through from this awful virus using the very latest, innovative treatments we’ve developed.

We were able to detect the virus at the earliest possible moment in our on-site science centre, where we analyse blood samples from the elephants and are able to pick up the virus as soon as it becomes active in the bloodstream.

Although it was such early stages and Indali looked happy in herself, we couldn’t take any risks due to the fast-acting nature of the virus and began treatment immediately; administering anti-viral drugs, as well as flushing her system with blood plasma from an elephant with a perfect blood type match.

Whenever this deadly virus strikes, the odds are stacked against us, but we have never been more hopeful that we can win the battle against EEHV.

This isn’t just a fight for Indali, it’s a fight for Asian elephants globally.”

The zoo is leading global efforts to find a vaccine for the disease, and is backed by new technology and science, developed following the tragic losses of other calves at the zoo to the complex virus.

EEHV is known to be present in almost all Asian elephants, but only develops into an illness in some animals – it is currently unknown why this is. The virus has led to deaths in eight countries across the Asian elephant’s wild range including India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia (Sumatra & Borneo) and Myanmar – as well as cases recorded in zoos and sanctuaries.

The virus is now one of the biggest threats to the long-term future of Asian elephants globally. Huge progress has been made in the fight to find a cure – with new potential vaccines being trialled in the near future that could solve the crisis for the species – but right now that battle is ongoing.

 

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