Japanese Encephalitis Virus – which is spread by mosquitos – has been reported in southern Queensland (Photo: Wikipedia)

March 3, 2022

A public alert has been being issued by Queensland Health following a confirmed human case of Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV) in Queensland.

The confirmed case, a woman in her 60s, had recently travelled in regional southern Queensland and is currently being treated in a Brisbane hospital.

JEV is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito to people and animals. In animals, it mostly occurs in pigs and horses.

Clinicians at Queensland hospitals have been asked to be alert to the possibility of JEV in people presenting with encephalitis or similar illnesses.

Most human infections of JEV cause no symptoms or mild symptoms such as headache or fever. A person with severe disease may present with inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), characterised by sudden onset of vomiting, high fever and chills, severe headache, sensitivity to light, neck stiffness and nausea.

Children aged under five and older people who are infected with JEV are at a higher risk of developing more severe illness.

“We encourage Queenslanders to take necessary steps to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes, especially given the recent flooding event which may lead to an increase in mosquito numbers in coming weeks,” a Queensland Health spokesperson said.

“Measures to prevent mosquito bites include regularly applying insect repellent containing Diethyl Toluamide (DEET), Picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus; wearing loose, light-coloured clothing to cover up arms, legs and feet; and using other insecticide-based mosquito control devices where possible when outside.

“Mosquito bites can be experienced at any time of day, but some species are most active at dusk and dawn.

“Around your home, it’s important to inspect for common mosquito breeding sites, clean up debris and make sure to empty, wipe out and store any outdoor containers in a dry place.

“It’s also important to ensure flyscreens are in good order so mosquitoes can’t enter your home easily.”

Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV) is a nationally notifiable disease in both humans and animals.

The human case follows a detection at a piggery in southern Queensland last week. There have also been detections in NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

There is no risk to humans from consuming pork or pig products. Pork products are safe to eat.

The virus cannot be spread directly from person to person.

Queensland Health is working with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and industry, as well as State, Territory and national counterparts to discuss a national response.

Support is also being provided to intensive livestock industry workers.

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Related article: Encephalitis Detected In Piggeries

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