TAYLORSVILLE, Utah (ABC4) – Turkeys are expected to cost more this Thanksgiving because of inflation, but turkey farmers and producers in Utah are facing an additional set of concerns with the re-emergence of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza.
The first national case of avian flu since 2016 was detected in Utah County last April in a flock of wild birds.
Over 400,000 turkeys died or were euthanized to prevent the spread of the disease in Utah last month, according to the Department of Agriculture and Food in a press release. Three cases of HPAI were confirmed on turkey farms in Sanpete County in the last week of September, followed by seven additional cases in early October. UDAF reported that a total of 16 farms and two backyard premises had been impacted by the disease so far.
“While the loss is significant for these farms, at this time, food shortages are not expected with current numbers,” the press release stated.
UDAF is encouraging domestic bird owners to keep their flocks locked inside enclosures to avoid contact with migratory birds and make sure that they are not sharing water or food sources with wild bird habitats.
As of Nov. 2, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that a total of 47,900,886 poultries from 306 counties have been affected by the H5N1 viruses. However, CDC stated last March that the flu does not present an immediate public health concern.
All in all, consumers will most likely be having a hard time getting the turkey they want in the face of rising prices and deadly flu. Inflation caused the average retail price for a turkey this year to raise 73% to $1.99 per pound, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
Farmers and producers can visit USDA’s website to find more information on strengthening their biosecurity practices.