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Health warnings for Japanese Encephalitis are current across NSW and Victoria. New cases have been identified in the NSW- VIC border region. In the last week, Japanese Encephalitis has been detected in pigs in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. Mosquitoes spread the virus to humans.

Japanese Encephalitis is usually only found in far northern Australia and neighbouring countries.

About Japanese Encephalitis (JE)

JE is a viral illness spread by mosquitoes. It can infect animals and humans and has been confirmed in samples from several pig farms in regional NSW.

The virus cannot be transmitted between humans, and it cannot be caught by eating pork or pig products. Locally acquired cases of JEV have not been identified in NSW in animals or humans until now.

Mosquito control activities are being carried out in the vicinity of farms where pigs have been infected by JE. NSW Health is arranging vaccination of workers on affected farms.

There is no specific treatment for JE. The virus can cause severe neurological illness with headache, convulsions and reduced consciousness in some cases.

Symptoms

The majority (about 99%) of JE infections in people cause no symptoms. Some infected people experience an illness with fever and headache.

Those with a severe infection may experience

  • neck stiffness,
  • disorientation,
  • tremors,
  • coma,
  • convulsions (especially in children)
  • and paralysis



JE can cause permanent neurological complications or death.


Symptoms usually develop 5 to 15 days after being bitten by infected mosquitoes.

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek urgent medical attention.

Simple actions you can take to avoid mosquito bites include:

  • Avoid going outdoors during peak mosquito times, especially at dawn and dusk. Also, be wary when close to wetland and bushland areas.
  • If you don't have flywire screens on windows, sleep under mosquito nets treated with insecticides. If you are sleeping in an untreated tent or out in the open, also use a mosquito net.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants outdoors (reduce skin exposure). Also wear shoes and socks where possible. There are insecticides (e.g. permethrin) available for treating clothing for those spending extended periods outdoors.
  • Apply repellent to all areas of exposed skin. Repellants that contain DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, are the most effective against mosquitoes. Always check the label for reapplication times.
  • Re-apply repellent after swimming. Protection from repellent is also reduced with perspiration. It may need to be re-applied more frequently with strenuous activity or hot weather.
  • Apply the sunscreen first, and then apply the repellent. DEET-containing repellents may decrease sunscreens' sun protection factor (SPF), so you may need to re-apply the sunscreen more frequently.
  • Most skin repellents are safe for use on children aged 3 months and older when used according to directions. Some formulations are only recommended for children aged 12 months and older - always check the product. Infants aged less than 3 months can be protected from mosquitoes by using an infant carrier draped with mosquito netting that is secured along the edges.
  • If camping, ensure the tent has fly screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering.
  • Mosquito coils and other devices that release insecticides can help in reducing mosquito bites but should be used in combination with topical insect repellents.
  • Reduce all water-holding containers around the home where mosquitoes could breed. Mosquitoes only need a small amount of liquid to breed.

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