The deadly strain of H5N1 avian flu has been found in wild birds in Azerbaijan's Caspian Sea coast, officials said on Friday.

Samples from dead birds have been sent to a British lab for further testing.

Azerbaijan's state broadcaster warned people to avoid contact with wild birds and keep domestic poultry flocks indoors.

The country shares a short border with Turkey, where four people have died from the strain.

Poultry deaths were reported in Azerbaijan last month, but testing showed bird flu was not present.

While H5N1 affects mostly birds, it has killed at least 88 people since 2003. Most of the victims had been in direct contact with infected birds

Health experts fear the virus could mutate into a virus that spreads easily between humans, sparking a global pandemic.