Monday, January 19, 2015

Viral Epidemic Amongst Northeastern Turkeys: Widespread, Not Very Deadly

According to ABC News, there is a virus that is responsible for causing tumors in the spleens, kidneys, and livers of turkeys all over the Northeastern United States. The virus is apparently present in up to 50 percent of turkey populations in regions of New York, and was previously thought to be the causative agent behind the 15 percent drop in turkey populations in the past few years. However, new research indicates that tumor formation due to the virus is actually a rare event, and mortality associated with the infection is low.

In ABC's article, the news source states that the etiological agent responsible for the disease is Lymphoproliferative Disease Virus (LPDV). Being a curious virologist, I went to viralzone to investigate what type of virus LPDV was. This is what I found:

Weird right? Knowing that ICTV, not viralzone, was the actual virology bible, I consulted the taxonomical omniscient resource. Surely I would find out what family this virus belonged to. Survey says:

Hmmmm. No dice from the ICTV either. My next supposition was that this virus is newly discovered and simply hasn't been included in the ICTV database. But, according to ABC News, this virus was discovered by scientists at the University of Georgia in 2009. 

Educated guess: ABC gave the name of the syndrome associated with the virus, not the virus itself. Apparently there is a research paper coming out about the not-so-deadly virus promptly, so hopefully the ecologists and turkey biologists reference the actual virus that is doing meager amounts of damage. 

- Marcus Munoz 

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