What is Lymphoproliferative Disease Virus (LPDV)?

This is a virus that causes minor to extreme lesions on a turkey’s head and legs.

It is thought to spread between turkeys by direct skin contact or through mosquito bites. Some turkeys can fend off minor infections and survive while others can develop extreme lesions that inhibit their sight and ability to eat, which ultimately leads to death.

Are there health risks for humans? 

The disease poses no risk to human health.  However, like all infections, caution is advised while handling a bird with LPDV.  There is a potential for secondary bacterial infections if birds are handled improperly.  Thoroughly cooking the meat to an internal temperature of a minimum of 165°F is also advised.

What should I do if I shoot a bird that looks like this?

Although wild turkeys cannot pass on this virus to humans, if you shoot a bird that looks like the above pictures and you do not want to eat it, do NOT register it and please contact a Wildlife Biologist at one of the offices listed below or call the Department of Public Safety in Augusta at (800) 452-4664 to be connected with a Game Warden.  After examining the bird, the Department staff member will determine your eligibility to harvest another turkey.

Where did it come from? 

Little is known about the origin of LPDV in the United States.  LPDV was first detected in domestic turkeys in Europe.  The first confirmed case in the United Sates was in wild turkeys in Georgia in 2009.   MDIFW confirmed Maine’s first case of LPDV in April 2012.  Since that time, we have confirmed several cases throughout the state.  Currently, known cases occur virtually wherever wild turkeys are present.  We speculate that a combination of a very good turkey production year in 2011 and the mild winter of 2011-2012 may have contributed to the apparent increase in occurrence recently. It is likely to be encountered in 2013 as well.

If you shoot a wild turkey with these lesions please contact the Department:

Ashland – (207) 435-3231 Bangor – (207) 941-4466 Enfield – (207) 732-4132 Gray – (207) 657-2345 Greenville – (207) 695-3756 Jonesboro – (207) 434-5927 Sidney – (207) 547-5318 Strong – (207) 778-3324

Image courtesy Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

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2 thoughts on “Virus Found in Maine’s Wild Turkey Population

  1. Oh great! This is the first year in a very long time that my wife and I have decided to go Maine turkey hunting, and now I find that they can carry an ugly and strange virus.

    I mean it’s hard to simply hunt for turkeys, and now we have to deal with this problem!

    At least we can still use shotguns to bring them down. Pretty soon, we might have to chase them on foot, when they take our guns away from us.

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