Have you heard the news? Last week the teams at Houston Zoo and Baylor College of Medicine gave the first-ever dose of an mRNA vaccine for Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV) 1A to Tess, a 40-year-old Asian elephant. EEHV 1A is the deadliest strain of this devastating viral disease that targets young Asian elephants.

First described in detail in 1995, EEHV can cause hemorrhagic disease (HD) by damaging the inside lining of blood vessels (endothelium) which
results in blood loss and rapid, often fatal organ failure. EEHVs are endemic viruses in elephants having co-evolved with elephants over millions of years. Both Asian and African elephants, whether they are in human care or in the wild, are typically and naturally exposed to EEHV as calves.

Instrumental in this week’s groundbreaking achievement is Dr. Paul Ling, who serves on IEF’s Scientific Advisory Board, whose lab at Baylor College of Medicine worked tirelessly with Houston Zoo to develop this vaccine as well as key diagnostic tools needed to quickly identify an infection.

IEF was one of the first elephant conservation organizations to identify EEHV research as a top funding priority. We joined the efforts in supporting Dr. Ling’s work in 2017. Coming from elephant care, management, and veterinary backgrounds, the IEF Board of Directors recognized early on that this was a mammoth problem that needed all hands on deck.

Our commitment to #StompOutEEHV starts at the very foundation of research. We have supported efforts to expand our global knowledge of EEHV and its many strains starting with Dr. Gary Hayward’s research in viral genomic and pathogenesis. This is the foundation for all other research in this disease. IEF has also fostered global cooperation around this crisis through providing support and participating in every North American EEHV Workshop and many of the global meetings as well–including helping to establish the African EEHV Working Group at our 16th International Elephant Conservation & Research Symposium in South Africa.

IEF’s commitment to stopping EEHV doesn’t stop there. We’ve supported everything from diagnostic tools to treatment and supportive care. You can learn more about IEF’s history of EEHV support in the latest edition of Elephant Echoes. We have long supported the work of Dr. Ling who has taken vaccine development from the identification of candidate proteins to embarking on vaccine trials. This is a major development in the fight and should have a positive impact for elephants everywhere.

IEF’s commitment to fighting EEHV is unmatched. We are proud of the incredible work made possible by YOUR support of IEF. Elephants in zoos and private facilities are helping scientists find solutions to a disease that threatens elephants globally. EEHV is a global problem, but by bringing together elephant professionals, researchers, scientists, conservationists, donors and the elephants themselves, it is a problem we can defeat.

Leave A Legacy with Stock, DAFs, & More!

Summer is here and that means National Make-A-Will Month (August) is coming right up. Now is the perfect time to discuss the benefits of estate planning for you, your loved ones, and the causes you care about.

There are many ways to support elephants, including gifts of stock, directing your Donor AdvisedFunds, and leaving a legacy in your will. Giving in these ways can help with next year’s taxes while making a bigger impact protecting the elephants we love. We’re always here to help guide you through the process.