This study assessed the feasibility of identifying asymptomatic viral shedders using a novel TaqMan real-time PCR on trunk washes and swabs from the conjunctiva, palate and vulva of elephants. Six elephants from a UK collection were sampled weekly over a period of 11 weeks for this study. The herd prevalence of elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus-1 (EEHV-1) was 100 per cent by PCR. The virus DNA was detected in all the sampling sites; however, the prevalence of virus DNA in the conjunctiva swabs was higher. In addition, Asian elephants from two continental European collections were sampled once and one animal tested positive on a trunk wash. The virus from this animal was phylogenetically typed as EEHV-1A based on 231 nucleotides of the terminase gene.
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Ms Hardman is also at The Royal Veterinary College, Royal College Street, London, NW1 0TU, UK
Dr Gurrala is also at The Virology Department, AHVLA – Weybridge, New Haw, Addlestone, Surrey, KT15 3NB, UK
Provenance not commissioned; externally peer reviewed