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FILE PHOTO: A laboratory worker carries out an autopsy on dead wild geese, looking for evidence of the bird flu virus, in the laboratory of the Hungarian national food safety authority in Budapest, Hungary, January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh/File Photo


BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgian authorities found the H5N8 bird flu virus at a farm north of Brussels on Feb.1 and imposed measures to contain the spread of the highly contagious virus, the Belgian agriculture ministry said on its website on Thursday.

The virus was found at a site belonging to a bird enthusiast in the area of Lebbeke.

"The highly pathogenic character of this virus strain has yet to be confirmed," it said, adding the authorities established a three kilometre sanitary perimeter around the site. It said there were no poultry farms in that area.

"The virus that has been severely affecting neighbouring countries for several months has now reached Belgium. At this stage, the professional sector is not affected, but we must remain very vigilant," Belgian Agriculture Minister Willy Borsus said in the statement.

"A strict application of bio-security measures is essential for this case to remain isolated," he said. The ministry added Belgian consumers were facing no risks.

Various strains of the bird flu virus have been found in recent months in Germany, France, Italy, Greece and Portugal, as well as elsewhere around the world.

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Hugh Lawson)