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Barwon Health / Barwon South West Public Health Unit

(03) 4215 4000

Japanese encephalitis virus monitored in the Barwon South West

Friday, 18 March 2022

This month, Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) has been detected in pigs in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

There are several current and recent cases of encephalitis in Victoria that are under investigation and are strongly suspected to be caused by JEV.

The Barwon South West Public Health Unit has not identified any JEV cases this year in our region.

JEV is a rare but potentially serious infection of the brain caused by a virus spread to humans through mosquito bites.

The team are monitoring the developments interstate of Japanese Encephalitis cases in both humans and livestock. Our public health and emergency department staff are monitoring people who present at hospital with consistent symptoms, and are prepared for any possible cases that may arise with pathology pathways in place.

Most JEV infections are asymptomatic, however those with severe infection (less than one per cent) may experience headache, vomiting, disorientation, seizures, coma, and more rarely, permanent neurological complications or death.

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.

Deputy Director of the Barwon South West Public Health Unit, Associate Professor Dan O'Brien said it's important that people avoid mosquito bites where possible.

"We urge the community to avoid mosquito bites by using mosquito repellent containing picaridin or DEET on all exposed skin. Wear long, loose fitting clothing when outside, and ensure accommodation, including tents, are properly fitted with mosquito nettings or screens," he said.

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