Italy has reported an outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu virus on a turkey farm in the northeastern part of the country near Venice, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Tuesday.

The strain, which has never been detected in humans, is the same as in other cases found in Germany, the Netherlands and Britain since early November and which devastated bird flocks in Asia - mainly South Korea - earlier this year.

More than 1,200 birds were found dead from the virus at a fattening turkey farm in Porto Viro, the Paris-based OIE reported on its website, citing the Italian health ministry.

"High mortality was reported during the last two days. Control measures will be applied in the restriction zones established," the ministry said in the report.

Culling on the farm of more than 30,000 birds was due to start on Tuesday, it said.

It was the first outbreak of a highly pathogenic bird flu virus in Italy since September 2013, it said.