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PARIS (Reuters) - Italy reported an outbreak of the highly contagious H5N8 bird flu virus at a fattening turkey farm in the northern part of the country, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Monday, citing an report of the Italian health ministry.

Of 20,500 birds at risk from the outbreak, 6,000 were infected and 600 died from the virus, according to the report posted by the Paris-based OIE.

Italy had reported an outbreak of the virus in a wild bird earlier this month.

Different strains of bird flu have been spreading across Europe and Asia since late last year, leading to mass culling of poultry in certain countries and some human deaths in China.

This prompted the World Health Organization to call on all countries on Monday to monitor closely outbreaks of the deadly virus in birds and poultry and to report promptly any human cases that could signal the start of a flu pandemic.

The H5N8 virus is highly deadly for poultry but has never been found in humans.

(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide, editing by Gus Trompiz)

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