Equine Herpesvirus Type 9 in Giraffe with Encephalitis

Herpesviruses have been isolated from many mammals. Herpesvirus infection in natural hosts is often mild and is usually followed by a latent infection; however, cross-species herpesvirus infections cause severe and fatal diseases. These findings may explain why the giraffe had lesions while the zebras in the same enclosure did not.

Outcome: The fact the zebras were apparently healthy and seropositive for EHV-1 raises the possibility that the virus was reactivated and shed by one of the zebras, resulting in systemic infection and disease in the giraffe This cross-species transmission of equine herpesviruses raises the possibility of latent infection and transmission of the disease from zebras to other animal species kept in zoos; the results could be devastating. Zebras might be EHV-9 carriers in zoos. Cross-species transmission must be considered in terms of screening susceptible animals for subclinical infection in terms of husbandry and housing issues for irreplaceable species.

Last Updated
January 26, 2021
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