PARIS - Thousands of turkeys were set to be culled in parts of the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, an official said on Thursday, after a highly pathogenic bird flu strain was detected in Germany.

Citing data submitted by the German ministry of agriculture, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) said turkeys were found infected with the H5N8 serotype of the disease on November 4 on a farm in Heinrichswalde. It is the first time that the H5N8 strain, which hit Asia severely, had been notified by a member of the OIE in Europe.

The report said 1,880 birds had died.

Special units arrived at the farm in the early hours of Thursday, to disinfect the site.

Prevention, monitoring

The head veterinary of the Vorpommern-Greifswald district, Holger Vogel, said measures to prevent and monitor the spreading of the virus had been implemented and that more than 30,000 turkeys had been possibly infected by the virus.   

“The most important measures that we have to introduce here are of course the blocking of the area (around the farm) and to set up a monitoring area. But the most important thing on the farm itself is the preparation of the culling (of the birds) because there are more than 30,000 turkeys that are infected and that have shown clear symptoms (of the bird flu strain)," Vogel said.

"The longer we leave them in this state, the more likely they are to reproduce the virus, which can spread outside the farm and the surrounding area and we need to protect other poultry farmers,” he said.

Vogel also said authorities from the Federal Research Institute for Animal Health, the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, had confirmed the H5N8 strain had never been detected in humans.

South Korea had to slaughter millions of farm birds to try to contain an outbreak there.

China and Japan also reported cases of the H5N8 virus earlier this year.

Germany had not been hit by a highly pathogenic form of avian influenza since 2009.

In that year it reported cases of H5N1, a different strain that can be transmitted from birds to humans and had caused the death of nearly 400 people in the world as of July 2014, according to World Health Organization (WHO) data.