OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma City Zoo says it hopes new testing procedures will help prevent elephant deaths associated with a deadly strain of the elephant herpes virus.

The Oklahoman (http://bit.ly/2dvY5mb ) reports that in October, a 4-year-old Asian elephant died before results of a blood test confirming that it had the virus (EEHV1A) arrived. In response, the zoo began the process of purchasing a machine that will bring all its testing for the virus in house.

Blood samples are usually sent to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

With the purchase of the $25,000 machine, staff will be able to have results in three hours rather than the usual 36 hours. There is no cure for the virus, but it can be treated with anti-viral medication, stem cells and blood transfusions, if necessary.

“It’s a really good tool for us,” Nick Newby, assistant curator of large mammals, said. “It allows us to do something we couldn’t do before, which is get these results back very quickly which tells us how aggressive we need to be in treating them. It’s a big deal.”

Currently, all of the zoo’s five elephants are monitored constantly and tested weekly. With the PCR machine, they can be tested multiple times a day.

Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com