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PARIS (Reuters) - The Netherlands confirmed an outbreak of highly contagious bird flu in the Flevoland province that led to the culling of nearly 16,000 ducks, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Monday.

The highly pathogenic H5N6 strain was discovered on a duck fattening farm in Biddinghuizen on Dec. 7 where it killed 40 birds, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs said in a report posted on the OIE website.

A 3-kilometre surveillance zone and a 10-kilometre protection zone were established around the farm, it said.

The ministry added that the H5N6 sub-type found in Flevoland was not linked to the Asian zoonotic H5N6 which has been found in South Korea, Japan and elsewhere in Asia, prompting mass cullings.

On the other hand it was linked to the H5N8 virus, which last winter had led to the death or killing of millions of birds in an outbreak in western Europe and has been found in Italy and Germany in October.

(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Adrian Croft)

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Reuters