Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center recently embarked on a unique partnership with the Houston Zoo that is dedicated to helping treat a deadly virus in elephants.
In order to help the Houston Zoo combat a deadly form of herpes that can be contracted by Asian elephants, The Blood Center has donated a centrifuge specifically for use by the zoo. The centrifuge will allow zoo doctors to draw blood from non-infected elephants and spin it down to collect plasma used in transfusion treatments. Houston Zoo officials will be trained on the equipment and will have 24-hour access to the centrifuge in case an emergency transfusion is needed.
The Blood Center and the Houston Zoo held a ribbon-cutting for the centrifuge, in celebration of their new partnership, on May 10 at The Blood Center’s headquarters.
According to a New York Times article, researchers say the disease, elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus, has killed one in five Asian elephant calves born in North American zoos since 2000. It accounts for more than half of all deaths of juvenile elephants in North America, and researchers, working with available tissue samples, estimate that it has killed some 24 elephants since 1983.
Asian elephants are an endangered species, and The Blood Center is proud to have the opportunity to help the Houston Zoo preserve them however possible.