Elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) can cause a devastating haemorrhagic disease in young Asian elephants worldwide. Here, we report the death of two young Asian elephants after suffering from acute haemorrhagic disease due to EEHV-1A infection. We detected widespread distribution of EEHV-1A in various organs and tissues of the infected elephants. Enveloped viral particles accumulated within and around cytoplasmic electron-dense bodies in hepatic endothelial cells were detected. Attempts to isolate the virus on different cell cultures showed limited virus replication; however, late viral protein expression was detected in infected cells. We further showed that glycoprotein B (gB) of EEHV-1A possesses a conserved cleavage site Arg-X-Lys/Arg-Arg that is targeted by the cellular protease furin, similar to other members of the Herpesviridae. We have determined the complete 180 kb genome sequence of EEHV-1A isolated from the liver by next-generation sequencing and de novo assembly. As virus isolation in vitro has been unsuccessful and limited information is available regarding the function of viral proteins, we have attempted to take the initial steps in the development of suitable cell culture system and virus characterization. In addition, the complete genome sequence of an EEHV-1A in Europe will facilitate future studies on the epidemiology and diagnosis of EEHV infection in elephants.

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doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms7100396, hdl.handle.net/1765/120882
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Pavulraj, S. (Selvaraj), Eschke, K. (Kathrin), Prahl, A. (Adriane), Flügger, M. (Michael), Trimpert, J. (Jakob), van den Doel, P., … Azab, W. (Walid). (2019). Fatal elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus infection of two young Asian elephants. Microorganisms, 7(10). doi:10.3390/microorganisms7100396