Mexico bird flu outbreak: 10 million poultry to be vaccinated against H7N3

Chickens at a farm under quarantine in Jalisco state on July 4, 2012, days after Mexico declared a national animal emergency.

GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Mexico has started to vaccinate 10 million chickens and hens in the central west state of Jalisco against the bird flu virus, El Universal newspaper reported today.

Some five million birds have been slaughtered so far as authorities race to contain the outbreak of the highly-contagious H7N3 virus, which has cost the Mexican poultry industry some $50 million since it was first detected on June 20.

"Starting tomorrow, we are going to vaccinate hens and chicks across the country to put an end to this bird flu epidemic," Mexican President Felipe Calderon said Wednesday. The Mexican government declared a national animal emergency earlier this month.

According to the Agence France-Presse, Calderon said Mexico aims to produce 80 million vaccinations so that “in the coming weeks, (we) can end this economic impact on poultry producers.”

Several laboratories have been tasked with making the vaccines.

Previous local media reports said bird flu had been detected at 33 of the 253 poultry farms in Jalisco inspected by the country’s food safety watchdog, Senasica.

Senasica declared 82 farms to be free of the disease while 138 have been kept under “strict surveillance.”

Such outbreaks are monitored closely in Mexico since H1N1 began there in 2009 before spreading around the world and killing 17,000 people.

According to the UN, the H7N3 virus has occasionally caused human disease but has not shown itself to be easily transmittable between humans.

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