The second phase of the bird flu vaccination campaign has started in Mexico, where nearly 11 million birds have been slaughtered to prevent the spread of the AH7N3 avian flu virus, the National Food Health, Safety and Quality Service, or Senasica, said.

The vaccination campaign's second phase is being launched at poultry farms in the Los Altos region of the western state of Jalisco, the Senasica said.

Some 90 million doses of the vaccine will be used in the second phase of the campaign, whose first phase resulted in the use of 88.3 million doses of the vaccine, the federal agency said.

Officials are keeping 53 million doses of the vaccine and viral samples in reserve so production can be boosted if needed, Senasica director Enrique Sanchez said.

The distribution of hens will resume this month, with some 5 million birds being shipped monthly to the farms that were cleared by inspectors, Sanchez said.

These moves should allow egg production to slowly return to pre-outbreak levels soon, Sanchez said.

A total of 10.9 million birds were slaughtered between June 19 and Aug. 20 to prevent the spread of avian flu.

Samples have been taken at 438 farms in 45 cities in the Los Altos region, with only 43 farms - all commercial operations - testing positive for AH7N3, Sanchez said.

The monitoring program has been expanded, leading to tests at farms in 22 of Mexico's 31 states and the Federal District, with all the results negative, the federal official said.

The outbreak of AH7N3 has been limited for now to the Los Altos region of Jalisco, Sanchez said.

Avian flu does not pose a danger to people consuming meat or eggs, and the measures being taken are designed to protect poultry production, officials said.

Mexican health officials said in late June that the presence of the avian influenza virus had been detected in Jalisco and took emergency measures to prevent its spread.

The vaccine is being produced by the National Veterinary Biological Production Agency, or Pronabive, with assistance from three private pharmaceutical companies.

Mexico, according to National Poultry Producers Association figures, produces nearly 2.5 million tons of eggs and 1.2 million tons of meat annually. 

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