Japanese encephalitis virus detected in Northern Victoria
Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is a rare but potentially serious infection of the brain that can be spread to humans through mosquito bites. JEV been detected in pigs in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland and there have been several cases in humans in Northern Victoria and the NSW-Victoria border region recently
Pigs are an important host of the virus but it cannot be transmitted by eating meat of infected animals. Nor can the virus be passed from person to person. The infection is transmitted to humans through bites from particular types of infected mosquitos.
Most people with JEV have no or mild symptoms. In people who develop severe disease, early symptoms include fever, headache and vomiting. These symptoms maybe followed by disorientation, coma and seizures. Children under the age of 5 and older people who are infected with JEV at a higher risk of developing more severe illness, such as encephalitis.
Anyone experiencing these symptoms, particularly if they’ve visited the Murray River area between Mildura and Wodonga near the border of Victoria and New South Wales or been in contact with pigs, should seek urgent medical attention.
Simple steps to protect against mosquito-borne diseases include, particularly if residing or visiting the Murray River during the March long weekend and beyond include:
- Wear long, loose fitting clothes outdoors.
- Use effective mosquito repellents containing picaridin or DEET on all exposed skin.
- Try to limit outdoor activity if lots of mosquitoes are about.
- Use ‘knockdown’ fly sprays and plug-in repellent devices indoors.
- Sleep under mosquito nets treated with insecticides if you don’t have flywire screens on windows on your home or are sleeping in an untreated tent or out in the open.
- Mosquito coils can be effective in small outdoor areas where you gather to sit or eat.