Lymphoproliferative disease virus (LPDV) was first detected in North America in 2009 in a wild turkey from Arkansas that had lymphoid tumors. Since its initial diagnosis, multiple surveillance projects across the eastern United States and Canada have detected a varying and often high prevalence (26-83%) of LPDV in healthy and diseased wild turkeys. Despite a low proportion of LPDV-infected wild turkeys developing cancer, many individuals are co-infected with other infectious agents, including bacteria and fowlpox virus. Co-infections with a similar retrovirus, reticuloendotheliosis virus (REV), also is frequently detected.
High LPDV prevalence has been concomitant with population declines in wild turkeys in the midwestern and eastern United States. REV is known to cause immunosuppression, and infected individuals may develop fatal secondary infections. This may also be true for LPDV but because little is known about how LPDV-associated disease develops in wild turkeys, its impact on populations is unclear.
Multiple projects at SCWDS are underway to investigate the pathogenesis of and develop tools to diagnose LPDV. Through experimental infections, we have demonstrated that whole blood, spleen, and bone marrow are reliable diagnostic samples to detect LPDV. Moreover, REV is most frequently detected in bone marrow from turkeys submitted for diagnostic evaluation. Additional studies developing laboratory methods to highlight LDPV and REV in tissues and LDPV-infection impact on wild turkey behavior are underway.