News of the WeekVirology

Virus Suspect Identified in Elephant Deaths

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Science  19 Feb 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5405, pp. 1093-1094
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5405.1093a

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A research team reports on page 1171 that it has identified a virus that has killed at least eight juvenile Asian elephants at zoos. The virus, which is a distant relative of the herpesvirus that causes cold sores in humans, may have been transmitted to the Asian elephants from African elephants also kept in zoos. What's more, the researchers suspect that Asian elephants harbor a virus that is fatal to their African cousins. By raising the possibility of fatal crossover infections, the work could influence how the world's zoos take care of their elephants.

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