STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. – The US Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) announced an initiative to help Mexico deal with an outbreak of avian influenza that is forcing producers to cull millions of birds.

USAPEEC and Mexico’s Union Nacional de Avicultores (UNA) have established a NAFTA Egg and Poultry Partnership (NEPP) working group to identify issues and projects on which the two industries can collaborate to aid Mexico’s efforts to control the outbreak.

Mexican animal health officials culled approximately 3.8 million chickens as of July 19 hoping to contain an avian influenza H7N3 outbreak in Jalisco, Mexico. Another 9.3 million birds are under observation, according to the country’s food safety agency, Senasica.

"The outbreak of AI in Mexico could have occurred in any NAFTA country, indeed in any country in the world," USAPEEC said in a statement. "No industry is entirely immune to the movement of infectious animal diseases. It is everyone’s interest to work together to stamp out AI wherever and whenever it occurs.

"The US industry wants to assure its Mexican colleagues that they have our staunch support."

Various US organizations are supporting the NEPP working group, including the American Egg Board, the National Chicken Council, the National Turkey Federation, the US Poultry and Egg Association, United Egg Producers, and the USAPEEC International Poultry Development Program, as well as the International Egg Commission and the International Poultry Council, according to USAPEEC.

Mexico is implementing internationally-recognized strategies and protocols for eliminating the disease that were created by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), USAPEEC said.

"These procedures include containment, management of poultry movement, zoning and compartmentalization, humane stamping out, and vaccination when appropriate," USAPEEC said. "The OIE strategies, when fully and properly implemented, will provide an effective path for handling this crisis."