Penn Vet | Fact Sheet Detail



Lymphoproliferative Disease

By: Wildlife Futures Team Date: Mar 11, 2021

Other names: LPDV


Lymphoproliferative Disease (LPDV), caused by a retrovirus, results in tumor formation in internal organs and the skin in several species of land fowl1


Known to occur in domestic turkeys in Europe and Israel since the 1970s, LPDV was first recognized in wild North American turkeys in 2009 in Arkansas2

LPDV is widespread in wild turkeys in North America but there is little evidence that the disease is having a negative impact at the population level. In addition, it currently does not appear to pose a serious threat to the domestic poultry industry1

Species Affected

LPDV is known to affect domestic chickens as well as both domestic and wild turkeys. In North America, however, LPDV appears to only cause infections in wild turkeys1


Domestic fowl are affected by LPDV in the UK, Austria, the Netherlands and Israel. Recent research has shown that LPDV is endemic in the wild turkey population in the US3. It has been diagnosed in 18 states which encompass the area considered to be the natural distribution of wild turkeys. 


The disease is believed to be transmitted horizontally between birds that have had direct contact3

Clinical Signs

In wild turkeys, LPDV causes the formation of tumors in internal organs which can result in disorientation, weakness, lethargy, starvation, and death. Scabby nodules on the skin of the legs and head also occur2

Mortality associated with LPDV in wild birds, though reported, is thought to be rare. 


Multiple tan nodules in the organs, enlarged spleen and liver, thickening of the intestinal wall, and pox-like skin nodules are suggestive of LPDV infection2. Turkeys with this disease may also have concurrent infection with Avian Pox virus, though the relationship between these viruses is currently unclear1

Laboratory testing, specifically polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, is used to detect the virus in blood or tissue4


No treatment is available.


Because turkeys are flocking birds, proximity is an important risk factor. Practices that bring birds together such as feeding will lead to the spread of the disease if the virus is present3


  1. MacDonald, A.M., Barta, J.R., McKay, M., Lair, S., Le Net, R., Baldwin, F., Pople, N. and Nemeth, N.M., 2019. Lymphoproliferative Disease Virus in Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) from Manitoba and Quebec, Canada. Avian diseases, 63(3), pp.506-510.
  2. Allison, A.B., Keel, M.K., Philips, J.E., Cartoceti, A.N., Munk, B.A., Nemeth, N.M., Welsh, T.I., Thomas, J.M., Crum, J.M., Lichtenwalner, A.B. and Fadly, A.M., 2014. Avian oncogenesis induced by lymphoproliferative disease virus: a neglected or emerging retroviral pathogen? Virology, 450, pp.2-12.
  3. Alger, K., Bunting, E., Schuler, K. and Whipps, C.M., 2017. Risk factors for and spatial distribution of lymphoproliferative disease virus (LPDV) in wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) in New York State, USA. Journal of wildlife diseases, 53(3), pp.499-508.
  4. Alger, K., Bunting, E., Schuler, K., Jagne, J. and Whipps, C.M., 2015. Diagnosing lymphoproliferative disease virus in live wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) using whole blood. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, 46(4), pp.806-814. 

Suggested Reading


Cases of LPDV in the United States

WF-Cases of LPDV in US 

Cases of LPDV in the United States. Map courtesy of Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study

Wild Turkey with head nodules

Head nodules on wild turkey, typical of LPDV 

Wild turkey with head nodules caused by LPDV, courtesy Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study

Wild turkey with leg nodules

Turkey leg with lesions from LPDV 

Wild turkey with leg nodules caused by LPDV, courtesy Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study

Tan nodules on liver of wild turkey

turkey liver with LPDV 

Tan nodules on liver of wild turkey with LPDV, photo courtesy of the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study