Turkey Diseases: Impact of LPDV on Wild Populations

Turkey can run and fly to escape from the many predators that hunt them, but there is no seeing the turkey diseases that can afflict them. This makes turkey management all that more important, attempting to maintain a viable, healthy turkey population. Recently, reports have arisen from across the Eastern US over the prevalence of Lymphoproliferative Disease, or LPDV as it is commonly referred to. This disease was originally found in the UK and Middle East in domestic turkeys but has recently been found in several southeastern states including Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, and Mississippi. There have also been several reports over the past year of wild turkeys showing signs of LPDV in Texas.

Symptoms fo this turkey disease are similar to commonly cited Avian Pox with external signs including unfeathered portions of a turkey’s head being covered with nodules which may be ulcerated and covered in crust. Unlike many turkeys with avian pox, the legs and feet may also have lesions or even missing digits. Other signs may include disorientation, weakness and lethargy. However, the disease may kill the bird rapidly and many samples may come from birds found dead. Many birds may be infected with multiple diseases including avian pox.

Wild Turkey Disease and Impact of LPDV

The first case of LPDV was identified by the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study (SCWDS) in 2009. Prior to that date the disease had not been reported in North America. Many apparently uninfected birds from across the southeast have also come up positive for LPDV. There may be a link to domestic turkeys.

Sampling for the LPDV Turkey Disease

SCWDS is interested in identifying the prevalence of LPDV across the US and is asking for samples from as wide a range as possible. This may be an opportunity to see what prevalence may be in the wild turkey populations with limited financial investment (shipping). The turkey hunting season is over for the most part, but as opportunities to provide samples arise samples can be submitted for testing. SCWDS is requesting the following to tract this turkey disease:

  • Leg portion (above the spur to the feather line)
  • Location (County, State, GPS coordinate or distance and direction to nearest town)

Samples can be mailed care to:

Dr. Justin Brown
Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study
Department of Population Health
589 D.W. Brooks Drive
Wildlife Health Building
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Georgia
Athens, Georgia 30602

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Turkey Hunting and Management