An outbreak of highly pathonogenic avian influenza of subtype H7N3 in western Mexico has infected about 2.5 million chickens and led authorites to destroy or dispose of nearly 1 million birds.  Mexico’s National Health Service, Food Safety and Food Quality, has confirmed the presence of the virus in two municipalities of the western state of Jalisco on June 20.

Mexican animal health officials have since inspected nearly 129 poultry farms and the virus was confirmed in birds in 24 of the sites.  Tests continue on the rest.  An animal health emergency has been declared and operations will be activited throughout Mexico in order to prevent the further spread of bird flu.  Under the emergency measures, the country has been divided into eight regions, which will be regulated by the National Health Service through the Directorate General of Animal Health.

Containment measures include coordinated efforts for the diagnosis, prevention, control, and eradication of the disease, including quarantine and isloation of affected farmes.  Survellance and epidemiological research will be increased and additional sanitary meaures will be enforced.

Poultry production contributes to 40 percent of Mexico’s livestock production kent, so economic losses could be severe if the disease spreads further.  Reportedly, the outbreak has caused price increases in chicken and egg products in Mexico