Nat’l Elephant Herpesvirus Lab

EEHV Testing at the National Elephant Herpesvirus Lab at Smithsonian’s National Zoo, USA


Contact Information

Erin Latimer
[email protected]

Available Tests

Currently, conventional Polymerase Chain Reaction (cPCR) and quantitative PCR (qPCR) are used to diagnose EEHV in elephants. These assays look for the presence of viral DNA in the sample. Whole blood and/or tissues are used in the assays. We are able to detect all of the eight known types of EEHV (EEHV 1a, 1b, 2-7) and the non-pathogenic elephant gammaherpesviruses. This is the assay used to detect all of the presently known EEHV types and we anticipate that it will detect any other EEHVs that may be circulating, that haven’t been detected in a laboratory to date. Samples from acute cases, necropsies, and new births can be tested by PCR. We can also detect shedding of the EEHVs in trunk washes.

We are developing a next generation assay that will utilize synthetic EEHV proteins on a chip and will be able to distinguish antibodies to the various types of EEHV. An EEHV ELISA is also being developed, based on the full-length gB. Once these assays are validated, we will be offering serology.

Sample Collection Procedures

Detailed sample collection procedures can be found in the “Request for EEHV Testing” form.

Sample Shipping Procedures

Please don’t allow the samples to go through freeze-thaws (eg if storing in a freezer until shipping, please don’t use a freezer that goes through defrost cycles).

Please ship in a styrofoam cooler in a cardboard box, with either dry ice or several ice packs and send FedEx Priority Overnight.

Please include:

Please email ([email protected]) (preferred) or call (703-855-9611) the lab before shipping and include the FedEx tracking number when contacting the lab.

Diagnostic samples can be sent on Friday for delivery on Saturday, but arrangements MUST be made ahead of time by contacting the lab at the above email/phone. Other samples should only be sent for delivery Tues-Fri.

International Samples

We can test samples from other countries, but the proper import/export permits must be arranged ahead of time. Please anticipate that it may take up to six months to arrange the permits. Please contact the lab ([email protected]) to start the process.

We will need to know:

  1. Name and address of person sending the samples
  2. Identifying information of the elephant (name and/or ID #)
  3. Species
  4. Sex
  5. Captive or wild-born
  6. Capture permit # if wild-born