Hundreds of thousands of turkeys are sick. How could that impact your holiday plans?

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Avian influenza is once again sweeping across poultry farms in the U.S. and bringing the risk of disrupted holiday meals with it.

While Thanksgiving meal prices will mostly be spared, Texas A&M Department of Poultry Science Professor Greg Archer said Christmas celebrations may not be as lucky.

“Prices are probably going to start going up with all the turkey that we’re losing,” Archer said. “It’s possible that it’s just going to keep getting worse.”

In October, the avian flu had already killed more than 1.4 million poultry nationwide, including 800,000 turkeys. In November, we reached those same numbers just halfway through the month.

Archer said the bird flu is spread by wild birds, including waterfowl, migrating south from Canada.

Those birds then interact with birds on poultry farms and spread the virus.

“We generally see more and more as the wild birds start migrating down,” he said.

Some farmers will try to secure their gaggle from outside invaders. Once infected with influenza, turkeys are euthanized to try and stop the spread.

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Shown are frozen turkeys in New Hope, Pa., Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Archer recommends if you want to play it safe, buy a turkey early and stick it in the back of your freezer.

“It’s not going to affect your meal, the quality of your turkey by just sitting in your freezer for another month or so,” he said.

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