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Abstract

Nineteen dead wild turkeys were necropsied and 573 live wild turkeys were physically examined for pathological agents in Arkansas between 1992 and 1997 to determine the proximate role disease may play in declining wild populations in Arkansas. Necropsy of the dead wild turkeys identified avian pox and histomoniasis as the most common diseases (16% and 11% of necropsies, respectively). Avian pox was recorded from three major physiographic regions in the state (Ozark Highlands, Ouachita Mountains, Gulf Coastal Plain). One hen died of non-accidental crop impaction, the fifth occurrence observed in the southeastern United States. Another hen died after developing severe, focal necrotic dermatitis caused by a Penicillium sp. fungus, the first occurrence observed in wild turkeys. All live wild turkeys appeared free of gross signs of disease. We found diseases in wild turkeys in Arkansas are not uncommon and are more diverse than previously reported. Continued monitoring of disease in wild turkeys is therefore encouraged.

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