An outbreak of a highly contagious strain of bird flu, H5N8, has caused several farms in Germany to cull about 77,000 poultry. 

A 72 hour standstill order has been issued banning the sale and transport of poultry from the latest areas involved, the ministry said.

The contagious H5N8 strain has been found in more than 500 wild birds in Germany in recent weeks. Outbreaks on farms have been rare after the government introduced tough sanitary rules to prevent infection by wild birds, including orders to keep poultry indoors in high-risk regions.