Clinico-pathologic features of fatal disease attributed to new variants of endotheliotropic herpesviruses in two Asian elephants (Elephas maximus)

Vet Pathol. 2009 Jan;46(1):97-104. doi: 10.1354/vp.46-1-97.


The first herpesviruses described in association with serious elephant disease were referred to as endotheliotropic herpesviruses (EEHV) because of their ability to infect capillary endothelial cells and cause potentially fatal disease. Two related viruses, EEHV1 and EEHV2, have been described based on genetic composition. This report describes the similarities and differences in clinicopathologic features of 2 cases of fatal endotheliotropic herpesvirus infections in Asian elephants caused by a previously unrecognized virus within the betaherpesvirus subfamily. EEHV3 is markedly divergent from the 2 previously studied fatal probosciviruses, based on polymerase chain reaction sequence analysis of 2 segments of the viral genome. In addition to ascites, widespread visceral edema, petechiae, and capillary damage previously reported, important findings with EEHV3 infection were the presence of grossly visible renal medullary hemorrhage, a tropism for larger veins and arteries in various tissues, relatively high density of renal herpetic inclusions, and involvement of the retinal vessels. These findings indicate a less selective organ tropism, and this may confer a higher degree of virulence for EEHV3.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Zoo*
  • Base Sequence
  • Betaherpesvirinae / genetics*
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • Elephants*
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Herpesviridae Infections / pathology*
  • Herpesviridae Infections / veterinary*
  • Kidney / ultrastructure
  • Liver / ultrastructure
  • Lung / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / veterinary
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / veterinary
  • Spleen / ultrastructure


  • DNA Primers