news release
Contact: Deborah Olson, IEF, 817. 237.9034

International Elephant Foundation Donates StepOnePlus qPCR System to the National Elephant Herpesvirus Laboratory at the Smithsonian National Zoo

Azle, Texas (January 9, 2012) – The International Elephant Foundation (IEF) has announced that it has donated a StepOnePlus qPCR System to the National Elephant Herpesvirus Laboratory (NEHL) at the Smithsonian National Zoo. The qPCR system represents one of the most powerful and sensitive gene analysis tools in the field and will be an invaluable asset enhancing the NEHL’s current diagnostic testing and analysis capabilities.

“NEHL uses the qPCR system to perform vital Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV) diagnostic testing and analysis to save elephants’ lives,” said National Zoo Director Dennis Kelly. “IEF’s support of NEHL has been a vital resource for over a decade, which has aided our laboratory in becoming the prime world-wide resource of elephant herpesvirus information, testing and research. IEF, through their commitment to advancing research and global collaboration, is a vital partner in our efforts to save elephants, and we are grateful to have such a powerful asset as this PCR system. We thank the International Elephant Foundation for making possible this significant enhancement in our diagnostic and research capabilities.”

Elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) causes acute hemorrhagic disease and is one of the most significant causes of disease and mortality in Asian elephants internationally. EEHV was first identified and described by Dr. Laura Richman, first as a veterinary pathology resident at the Smithsonian National Zoo and then as a comparative pathology resident in Dr. Gary Hayward’s laboratory at Johns Hopkins University. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) identifies the presence of viral DNA in a blood or tissue sample and is a primary tool for diagnosing EEHV in elephants.

NEHL’s Research Specialist Erin Latimer is delighted with the new system donated by IEF saying, “The speed and power of this new system will allow us to turn around elephant health screening samples in a shorter time, test for multiple pathogens simultaneously, as well as garner additional information to support our research. This gift means the lab is better equipped to diagnose those elephants affected by EEHV within the global elephant population so they can be treated and lead healthy lives. ”

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