February 2, 2023

Virus in Maine’s Wild Turkey Population


Turkey hunters should be aware of Lymphoproliferative Disease Virus (LPDV), which has been found in Maine turkeys. Read below to find out more about the virus and what to do if you shoot or see a turkey that has LPDV.

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 this virus on 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 or see a wild turkey with these lesions, please contact the IFW office closest to you:
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