Germany reports second case of bird flu - H5N8 found in wild bird

BERLIN (Reuters) - German authorities on Saturday confirmed a second case of the H5N8 strain of bird flu in the eastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, with the virus found in a wild bird.

The strain is highly contagious among birds but has never been detected in humans.

"For the first time, the H5N8 virus has been confirmed in a wild bird in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern," Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt said in a statement.

"With that the suspicion is strengthened that wild birds are connected with the cases in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern as well as in the Netherlands and Britain," the minister said.

As a precautionary measure, all German states should consider ordering farmers to keep their animals in the stalls, Schmidt added.

Germany and the Netherlands were working closely together with the aim of preventing a possible spread of the virus and to trace back its origin, the minister said.

The first H5N8 case in Germany was confirmed on Nov. 4 on a poultry farm in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Some 5,000 birds were infected by the disease, of which 1,880 died.

Dutch health authorities on Saturday were destroying 8,000 ducks to prevent the possible spread of bird flu, which has infected three farms in a week in the Netherlands, a leading poultry and egg exporter.

Tests show that the bird flu viruses found in Germany, the Netherlands and Britain are similar to one that devastated poultry flocks in South Korea earlier this year, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has said.

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

(Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Stephen Powell)