Odisha elephants face herpes threat, another infected elephant isolated in Nandankanan

Bhubaneswar:  The deaths of three elephants within a span of 25 days due to the elephant endotheliotropic herpes virus has now put the authorities of Nandankanan Zoo and Forest department in a fix as they now face an uphill task to contain its outbreak.

As there is no prescribed or proven method of treatment, efforts have begun to isolate female elephant ‘Gauri’, who is said to have contracted the virus. Gauri is being administered high dosage of medicines while her health condition is being monitored on every 12-hour basis.

Nandankanan Zoo officials informed that though there has been a slight improvement in Gauri’s condition, she is not completely out of danger.

“The treatment of Gauri has begun and she is being administered high dosage of drugs,” said Anjan Mohanty, Assistant Director of Nandankanan Zoological Park.

According to experts, the elephants usually exhibit several symptoms such as reduced appetite, nasal discharge and swollen glands on both sides of the face after getting infected. The platelet counts of the elephants also drop considerably, which is fatal.

“It is unfortunate that even after deaths of three elephants within a span of 25 days, no concrete steps have been taken to contain the outbreak,” tweeted former Kendrapara MP, Baijayant Panda.

It is pertinent to mention here that sub-adult elephant, Kamala succumbed to the disease while undergoing intensive treatment for elephant herpes virus at Nandankanan Zoological park yesterday. Prior to Kamala, the lone male elephant, ‘Chandan’ had died in the zoo on September 16 after being infected by the virus. Female elephant ‘Julie’ was the first victim of the herpes virus at the zoo. Julie had died on August 27.

“We have got confirmation through post mortem report that the two deaths have been caused due to herpes virus. There is no specific treatment for the disease,” said senior veterinarian, Dr Susen Panda.

Harishankar Upadhaya, chief wildlife warden stated that “We are in touch with the experts from Assam, Kerala and the USA for treatment of the animals. Gauri is responding to treatment and her condition is stable today.”

It is not for the first time that a major disease outbreak has been reported at Nandankanan Zoo. Earlier, 12 tigers had died of Trypanosomiasis in 2012.