is a human anti-viral drug that has been used to treat
endotheliotrophic herpesvirus (EEHV) infection in Asian elephants.
Herpesvirus infections in elephants are acute, severe and often
fatal. To date only 3 of the known cases have survived. Two of
these were treated with famciclovir rectally and one was treated
orally. At least 3 elephants treated with famciclovir have not
survived. In the surviving elephants, loading doses varied from
10.6 to 16.6 mg/kg and duration of treatment varied from 15 to 26
days. Dosages were adjusted during treatment and other supportive
drugs were included in the treatment regimen. Veterinarians are urged
to contact experienced colleagues for the latest treatment
recommendations in suspected cases.
study to determine the pharmacokinetic parameters is currently under
way. Preliminary results suggest 5 mg/kg orally will result in drug
levels that should be therapeutic in elephants (Ramiro Isaza, Kansas
State University, personal communication).
References (Only those references that include treatment
information are listed below. For a complete list of elephant
herpesvirus references see our Database
- Herpesvirus [within the
Montali,R.J., Richman,L.K., Mikota,S.K., Schmitt,D.L., Larsen,R.S.,
Hildebrandt,T.B., Isaza,R., and Lindsay,W.A. 2001. Management
Aspects of Herpesvirus Infections and Tuberculosis in Elephants. A
Research Update on Elephants and Rhinos; Proceedings of the
International Elephant and Rhino Research Symposium, Vienna, June
7-11, 2001. Pages: 87-95 Abstract: Elephant endotheliotropic
herpesvirus (EEHV) infections and tuberculosis have emerged as causes
of illness and mortality in captive elephants. Twenty-six confirmed
EEHV cases are documented. Since 1995, 7 have occurred in North
America, 10 in Europe and 2 in Asia. A PCR test was used to detect the
virus in symptomatic animals; a serological test to identify carrier
elephants is under development. The African elephant is a potential
source of the EEHV that is lethal for Asian elephants. Fatal
infections have also occurred in Asian elephants without African
elephant contacts. Three of 6 elephants recovered after treatment with
antiviral famciclovir; however, more research is needed to improve the
usefulness of this drug. Asian elephants that are less than 10-years
old and have been moved to another facility and/or have had contact
with African elephants are at increased risk for contracting EEHV.
Animals traveling between facilities with a history of EEHV cases may
be at greater risk. All young elephants should be monitored daily for
anorexia, lethargy, body swellings and blue discoloration (bruising)
of the tongue, and be trained for blood sampling and potential oral
and rectal treatment with famciclovir.
Schaftenaar,W., Mensink,J.M.C.H., Deboer,A.M., Hildebrandt,T.B., and
Fickel,J. 2001. Successful treatment of a sub adult Asian
elephant bull (Elephas maximus) infected with elephant herpes virus.
Proc. of the International Symposium for Diseases of Zoo and
Wildlife Animals (Rotterdam).
Schmitt,D.L., Hardy,D.A., Montali,R.J., Richman,L.K., Lindsay,W.A.,
Isaza,R., and West,G. 2000. Use of famciclovir for the treatment of
endotheliotrophic herpesvirus infections in Asian elephants (Elephas
maximus). Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 31:(4):518-522
Abstract: Two juvenile Asian elephants (E. maximus) presented
with an acute onset of facial oedema and lethargy. Examination of the
oral cavity of each animal revealed cyanosis of the tip and distal
margins of the tongue suggestive of endothelial inclusion body disease
(EIBD) of elephants. Whole-blood samples were obtained, and polymerase
chain reaction tests confirmed the presence of elephant herpesvirus.
The animals were administered famciclovir (Flamvir; 500 mg/70 kg body
weight, with a loading dose of 1000 mg/70 kg body weight) a potent
human anti-herpesvirus drug, in the course of their disease, and
recovery followed a treatment regime of 3-4 wk. These are the first
known cases of elephants surviving EIBD.
Schmitt,D.L., Hardy,D.A. 1998. Use of famciclovir for the treatment
of herpesvirus in an Asian elephant. Journal of the Elephant
Managers' Association 9:103-104