A six-year old elephant calf died due to Herpes virus infection at the rehabilitation centre for pachyderms at Kottur here, making it the second such casualty there within one week. On June 28, a female calf named Sreekutty, which was only around one-and-a-half years old, had died at the centre due to the same virus, Thiruvananthapuram Wildlife Warden J R Ani told P T I.
The official said the post-mortem of Sreekutty had revealed that the cause of death was the Herpes virus, which is common among elephants in the wild and manifests when their immunity is low or if they are genetically weak. He said that the calves at the centre are "innately genetically inferior" to their counterparts in the wild and therefore, more susceptible to the virus.
Ani said three more calves — Podichi, Aamina and Kannan — are undergoing IV treatment as they showed symptoms of the virus infection. Besides them, six other calves below the age of 10 years are under observation and have been given prophylactics to prevent infection, he said.
There were a total of 11 calves below the age of 10 years at the centre and with the death of Sreekutty last week and now Arjun, the number has come down to 9. The official said there was a 80 per cent mortality rate among calves below the age of 8 years and the rate of infection was also high among them.
He said that usually the calves die within 48 hours of exhibiting symptoms, as in the cases of Sreekutty and Arjun.