An outbreak of avian flu in the western state of Jalisco has claimed 2.5 million chickens and caused $50 million in losses, a representative of the Mexican poultry sector said Thursday.

"The industry will fail to produce $50 million, not only from the cost of the (dead) birds, but also from the intrinsic value of production, the generation of wealth and of indirect jobs in other fields," Cesar de Anda, vice chairman of the International Egg Commission, told Efe.

De Anda is part of an inter-institutional task force seeking solutions to the crisis spurred by the outbreak of the H7N3 virus in Jalisco, which accounts for 55 percent of Mexican egg output.

The latest report from Mexico's food safety agency, Senasica, says 2.5 million chickens have died of the flu or been slaughtered, while another 3.4 million birds are carriers of the virus.

Japan, the main foreign customer for Mexican eggs, has resumed imports from Mexico, but European and African countries continue to bar eggs from the Latin American nation, De Anda said.

Around 32,000 jobs could be lost if the bird-flu outbreak is not immediately brought under control, according to Ricardo Estrada, president of the Poultry Farmers Association in Tepatitlan, Jalisco, one of the municipalities hardest hit by the illness.

Mexican authorities "have acted slowly" in the face of the outbreak, he said, calling for more healthy chickens to be vaccinated against the H7N3 virus.

De Anda, meanwhile, noted that 1 million doses of vaccine acquired from Pakistan remain entangled in red tape at customs even as private labs in Mexico work round the clock to produce 80 million doses in three weeks. 

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