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Update on Japanese encephalitis and Murray Valley encephalitis in Victoria

Date issued: 6 March 2023 (update to alert issued 17 February 2023)

Issued by: Dr Christian McGrath, Deputy Chief Health Officer (Communicable Disease)

Issued to: Health professionals and Victorian community

Key messages

  • Two new cases of Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE) virus infection and one death have been confirmed in Victoria.
  • A total of three cases of MVE virus infection and two deaths have been reported in Victoria this mosquito season. A number of suspected cases are under investigation.
  • The second case is a woman in her sixties who died in late February, and the third case is a man in his seventies who is receiving treatment in hospital. Both cases were likely exposed to mosquitoes in northern Victoria.
  • The risk of mosquito-borne diseases such as Japanese encephalitis (JE), MVE and West Nile (Kunjin) virus infections are high this summer, particularly in northern Victoria where viruses are being detected in mosquitoes.
  • These viruses can cause a rare but potentially serious infection of the central nervous system and are spread to humans by infected mosquitoes.
  • Taking measures to avoid mosquito bites is critical to protect against infections.
  • Residents and people visiting northern Victoria, particularly inland riverine regions and near the Murray River, are strongly advised to take measures to reduce their risk of mosquito bites.
  • Symptoms may include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting and muscle aches, although most infected people do not have symptoms. In serious cases, people can develop meningitis or encephalitis which can be fatal.
  • Anyone with symptoms should seek urgent medical care.
  • Clinicians should test for JE virus and MVE virus in patients with a compatible illness and notify the Department of Health of suspected cases immediately by calling 1300 651 160.
  • Read the full alert: Update on Japanese encephalitis and Murray Valley encephalitis in Victoria.

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