Safety Alert: Japanese Encephalitis Virus
There is currently an outbreak of Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV) in Australia. JEV most commonly occurs in pigs and horses, but it is spread by mosquitoes. It is rare but can cause severe disease.
WHO IS AT RISK?
People that come into contact with mosquitoes, wetland birds and feral animals such as pigs are at risk.
Other risk groups are workers in Asia and the Torres Strait region of Australia who will be
- Travelling in rural areas
- Undertaking certain activities with increased risk of exposure
- Spending a month or more in the region
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF JEV?
It usually takes 5 to 15 days between getting bitten and becoming unwell. Symptoms include
- Neck stiffness
- Confusion and progression to delirium
- Coma, in severe cases.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I FEEL UNWELL?
If you have any of these symptoms, seek medical treatment. Among those who develop severe infection, some will go on to experience permanent neurological complications or possibly death. Call 000 in an emergency.
HOW DO I PROTECT MYSELF AGAINST JEV?
- Protect yourself against the virus by protecting yourself from mosquito bites
- Where possible, avoid areas with a lot of mosquitoes such as wetlands where birds and feral pigs might be present
- Wear loose, light-coloured clothing that covers feet, legs, and arms
- Avoid being outside when mosquitoes are most active - just before sunset, during the night and early in the morning
- Use repellents containing DEET, picaridin or PMD (extract of lemon eucalypt) on exposed skin
- Use mosquito coils, candle-heated or gas-operated devices with insecticide treated pads in sheltered or low wind outdoor areas
- Make sure flyscreens in houses or caravans are in good condition
- If camping, sleep in a mosquito-proof tent or under a mosquito net
- Remember repellents only protect against mosquito bites for up to 4 hours, not all night.
WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
Get more information on the virus at https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/japanese-encephalitis
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