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Health alert – Japanese encephalitis virus detected in Victoria 26 February 2022

Status: Active

Date issued: 26 February 2022

Issued by: Associate Professor Deborah Friedman, Acting Chief Health Officer

Issued to: Health professionals, residents and visitors in Victorian-NSW border areas.

Key messages

  • Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is a rare but potentially serious infection of the brain caused by a virus spread to humans through mosquito bites.
  • In the last week JEV has been detected in pigs in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
  • No cases of JEV have been detected in humans, however several cases of encephalitis with no identified cause have been detected in NSW and SA in the past month.
  • Most JEV infections are asymptomatic, however those with severe infection (less than one per cent) may experience neck stiffness, coma, and more rarely, permanent neurological complications or death.
  •  Anyone experiencing these symptoms, particularly if they’ve visited regions near the border of Victoria and New South Wales or been in contact with pigs, should seek urgent medical attention.
  • Clinicians should consider and test for JEV and other arboviruses in patients with unexplained encephalitis, after other common causes such as Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV) and enteroviruses have been excluded.
  • 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.
  • Read the full advisory: Japanese encephalitis virus detected in Victoria

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