Elephant pox seems actually be a strain of normal cow pox, and is one of the most dangerous diseases for elephants. Most often, it is spread to the elephants from rodents. It is lethal, and was until vaccination programmes, responsible for the death of many elephants. (Kuntze and Janetzky, 1982; Pade et al., 1990).
Even when treated, an infection leads to an enormous suffer for the elephants, and should be avoided at any prize.
Several outbreaks were recorded from european Zoos during 1900, listed by Pilaski in 1989 and modified 1993: http://library.vetmed.fu-berlin.de/resources/global/contents/2684681/Wien_1999/Hentschke.pdf (Berlin 1960 and 1961, Leipzig 1960, Erfurt 1962, Magdeburg: 1971 and 1990, Liberec 1972, Amsterdam 1973, Laxenburg-Wien 1974, Ansbach 1975, Lodz 1977, Speyer 1979, Reutlingen 1979 and 1980, Hammeln 1980, Hamburg 1984, Berlin-Spandau 1986, Erfurt 1988, Wuppertal 1989, Dresden 1990, Erfurt 2000, Hannover 2001), the last ones possibly with origin from circuses, and since the elephants at european circuses are still not enough veterinary monitored, they may remain as a potential infection spreader. The latest recorded infections was:
- 2000 in Erfurt; Germany, where 2 adult asian elephants Peggy and Monty on the small Circus Baldini, was infected with cow pox. The owner were still performing with the infected animals in the ring, hiding the ulcus with silver color bandages, when a vet passed by and saw the elephants one day, just by ocassion. The Smallpox has reached a level that the elephants had to be euthanized. (Hinke, 2000)
- Zoonotic potential
- Mainly known from Asian elephants in European zoos
- Can be transmitted by rodents
- Animals are lame, have dysphagia
- Vesicles progressing to ulcers on face, trunk, perineum, mouth, soles and nails
- Heal with depigmented scars
In Europe, information about the pox, as well as vaccine, can be obtained from:
Institut for Medical Microbiology
Infectious and Epidemic Diseases
Fax: +49 89 2180
Characterization of a pox virus strain isolated from an elephant.
Kubin, G.; Kolb, O.; Gerstl, F. Wien Tierarztl Monatsschr, 1975, v. 62 (6-8), p. 271-276.
Language: German with Summary in English.
NAL call no: 41.8 T345
Descriptors: pox virus, elephant, strain.
Elephants and their habitats: The ecology of elephants in North Bunyoro, Uganda.
Laws, R.M.; Parker, I.S.C.; Johnstone, R.C.B. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975, 376 p. ill. index, bibl.
NAL call no: QL737.P98L3
Descriptors: elephants, wildlife conservation, wildlife management.
Exungulation of all extremities in a female elephant in consequence of a smallpox infection.
Kuntze, A.; Burger, M.; Jancke, S.; Topfer, I. Monatsh Veterinarmed, Sept. 15, 1975, v. 30 (18), p. 703-705. ref.
Language: German with an English summary.
NAL call no: 41.8 M742
Descriptors: small pox, elephant, exungulation, feet.