Pittsburgh zoo says bull elephant battling disease

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Officials at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium say a young bull elephant is being treated for a non-contagious autoimmune disease that is preventing skin lesions from healing.

Zoo officials announced the illness in a news release Thursday and planned a news conference to provide additional information on Umasai (OO’-mah-sye).

Dr. Ginger Takle, the zoo’s director of animal health, says the elephant developed skin lesions that healed slowly and weren’t responding to antibiotics. But more tests were done, and the auto immune disease was confirmed, after keepers found the elephant lying down and unable to get up by himself in recent weeks.

Tests for liver and kidney disease are negative. The autoimmune disease prevents an animal’s immune system from combatting diseases and infections, and causes the immune system to instead attacks normal, healthy cells.

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