Two St. Louis Zoo elephants have herpes

Feb. 19, 2009 at 1:48 PM
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ST. LOUIS, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Two elephants at the St. Louis Zoo have been diagnosed with a potentially deadly herpes strain, zoo officials say.

Zookeepers said while Jade the elephant was diagnosed more than a week ago with elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus, the animal disease was found this week in Jade's half-sister Maliha, 2, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said Thursday.

Zoo mammal curator Martha Fischer said the fact Maliha has not shown any external symptoms related to the herpes strain has added to zookeepers' concerns.

"The fact that an animal can come back with a test result that this is present but show no signs at all -- that just goes to show you how much we don't know about the disease, how insidious it is," Fischer said. "It may be coming and going in an elephant herd and we may not know they've had an incident."

The Post-Dispatch said the results are pending from tests on the zoo's other elephants for the herpes strain, blamed for the deaths of several Asian elephants nationwide.

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