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

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


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).

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Zoo / virology*
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA, Viral / genetics
  • Elephants / virology*
  • Female
  • Genetic Variation / genetics
  • Hemorrhage / virology*
  • Herpesviridae Infections / mortality
  • Herpesviridae Infections / veterinary*
  • Herpesviridae Infections / virology
  • Rhadinovirus / genetics*
  • Rhadinovirus / isolation & purification
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • DNA, Viral