Mexico now has eight million fewer chickens clucking around and 66 million more vaccinated birds, and though that major cull and vaccination initiative, prompted by fears of bird flu, might seem really terribly scary, it isn't time to stock up on Tamiflu... yet. "Mexican authorities hope to vaccinate 80 million fowl in the first phase of its program, and then analyze the results before proceeding to phase two," reports the AFP, which explains that the bird flu strain H7N3 was found in the western state of Jalisco on June 20. The Mexican government declared a national animal health emergency on July 2, according to The Telegraph.
So, yes, anytime you wipe out millions of chickens because of bird flu fears, it definitely sends our inner hypochondriac into high alert, but health officials say that this particular strain of bird flu isn't easily transmittable, which is good news. What's also good news is that, according to the CDC, we've seen (well Canada has) H7N3 back in 2004 and the two people that contracted it recovered--that's a lot more comforting considering that the World Health Organization has documented 607 cases of bird flu since 2003, 358 (more than half) were fatal, as the AFP notes. The bad news is that this culling is making things very difficult for consumers and farmers. Jalisco, as Reuters reported in July, produces 11 percent of the country's poultry meat and 50 percent of its eggs, resulting in prices of eggs and poultry skyrocketing in Mexico.