Auslan Update Japanese Encephalitis Virus 11 March 2022

If you spend a lot of time outdoors or enjoy camping, but often get bitten by mosquitos, you may want to keep watching this.

In the last few weeks, there has been an outbreak of the Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV). It is a rare but a serious infection of the brain.

JEV can be spread to humans by mosquitoes who have bitten animals infected with JEV. Pigs in NSW and northern Victoria have been found to be infected with JEV, hence the outbreak via mosquitoes.

Most infections are asymptomatic which means people may not show symptoms of the virus. However, those with severe infection may experience headache, vomiting, disorientation, seizures, coma, and in more rare cases, permanent neurological complications, or death.

How can we limit our exposure to mosquitoes?

• Wear long, loose fitting clothes whilst outdoors.
• Use effective mosquito repellents that has picaridin or DEET on exposed skin
• Try to limit outdoor activity if there are lots of mosquitoes
• Use ‘knockdown’ fly sprays and plug-in repellent devices outdoors
• Sleep under mosquito nets treated with insecticides if you do not have flywire screens in your house, or if you are sleeping in an untreated tent or out in the open
• Use mosquito coils in small outdoor areas where you gather to sit or eat with your family or friends.

JEV cannot be transmitted from person to person.

If you live in or have visited the Murray River area, you should be aware of the risk of JEV and limit your exposure to mosquitoes.

If you have been bitten by mosquitoes and start experiencing symptoms, see your GP immediately.

Vaccination against JEV is available, and currently available for those who are planning to Asia and the Torres Strait region.

However, you can get the vaccination if you work with animals, especially if you work with pigs, including if you are a transport worker, vet and if you cull or hunt pigs.

The Department of Health is working closely with all states and territories to distribute vaccines to those who are at risk.

REFERENCES:
Australian Government Department of Health. Japanese Encephalitis. Available at:

ABC News. Here’s what we know about the Japanese encephalitis outbreak in Victoria, South Australia, NSW and Queensland. Available at:

Victorian Department of Health. Twitter thread – Japanese encephalitis. Available at:

National pest & disease outbreaks. Japanese Encephalitis. Available at:

The Guardian. What is Japanese encephalitis and why is it spreading in Australia? Available at:

Victorian Department of Health. Japanese encephalitis virus detected in Victoria. Available at:

SBS News. High-risk Australian communities prioritised in Japanese encephalitis virus vaccine rollout. Available at:

IMAGE SOURCES:
ABC News
Mortein
Travel Lifestyle
SBS News
The Conversation