GRAPHIC: Avian pox possibly spotted in Oklahoma turkeys

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OKLAHOMA - Wildlife officials are now looking into a possible case of avian pox in Seminole County.

The picture was that of a wild turkey - his face and body covered in lesions.

The virus, though, isn't widely seen in Oklahoma, and officials weren't able to test the turkey before the body was disposed of.

Avian pox, not to be confused with avian flu, is a virus commonly spread by mosquitoes that can be fatal to the bird.

"Disease happens, but it's one of those things biologists try to stay on the cusp of," said Michael Bergin with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "They try to stay aware, and keep up with what's going on in the populations."

Disturbing photos of what might be the disease are now making the rounds online.

"It's characterized by lesions and things like that that you might see on the bird." Bergin said. "Just here recently, there's been reports of possible avian pocks."

The turkey was spotted this weekend outside of Seminole.

Officials said there have been other possible pox sightings this winter near Duncan and Norman.

Problem is biologists have yet to properly test for the virus this year.

These birds were disposed of before wildlife officials were notified.

They're now asking that anyone who stumbles upon a turkey with possible pox to leave it and call someone with Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

"Just leave it there, and then the wildlife biologist that would respond would then determine if it's something we can actually test," Bergin said.

Despite the virus's unsettling appearance, it's fairly common according to the National Wild Turkey Federation, and "it is not a major threat to the population."

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