Extended genotypic evaluation and comparison of twenty-two cases of lethal EEHV1 hemorrhagic disease in wild and captive Asian elephants in India

A. Zachariah, P. K. Sajesh, S. Santhosh, C. Bathrachalam, M. Megha, J. Pandiyan, M. Jishnu, R. S. Kobragade, S. Y. Long, J. C. Zong, E. M. Latimer, S. Y. Heaggans, G. S. Hayward

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6 Scopus citations


Thirteen new lethal cases of acute hemorrhagic disease (HD) with typical histopathogical features were identified in young Asian elephants (Elephas maximus indicus) in India between 2013 and 2017. Eight occurred amongst free-ranging wild herds, with three more in camp-raised orphans and two in captive-born calves. All were confirmed to have high levels of Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus type 1A (EEHV1A) DNA detected within gross pathological lesions from necropsy tissue by multi-locus PCR DNA sequencing. The strains involved were all significantly different from one another and from nine previously described cases from Southern India (which included one example of EEHV1B). Overall, eight selected dispersed PCR loci totaling up to 6.1-kb in size were analyzed for most of the 22 cases, with extensive subtype clustering data being obtained at four hypervariable gene loci. In addition to the previously identified U48(gH-TK) and U51(vGPCR1) gene loci, these included two newly identified E5(vGPCR5) and E54(vOX2-1) loci mapping far outside of the classic EEHV1A versus EEHV1B subtype chimeric domains and towards the novel end segments of the genome that had not been evaluated previously. The high levels of genetic divergence and mosaic scrambling observed between adjacent loci match closely to the overall range of divergence found within 45 analyzed North American and European cases, but include some common relatively unique polymorphic features and preferred subtypes that appear to distinguish most but not all Indian strains from both those in Thailand and those outside range countries. Furthermore, more than half of the Indian cases studied here involved calves living within wild herds, whereas nearly all other cases identified in Asia so far represent rescued camp orphans or captive-born calves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0202438
JournalPloS one
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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