Agriculture Minister and Member for Maranoa David Littleproud

March 14, 2022

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud says the Federal Government has invested $69 million in battling the outbreak of Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV) in Australia.

Speaking to Sky News on Saturday, Minister Littleproud said the government had already delivered 6000 vaccine doses to high-risk areas but would eventually have 145,000 doses available across the country.

Money was also being spent on eradication strategies, pathology work and monitoring with State and local agencies.

“We are worried because Japanese encephalitis has normally only been found up in Northern Australia, but because of the wet that’s come right across the eastern seaboard, migratory water birds have come down (which have been) infected with Japanese encephalitis,” Minister Littleproud said.

The virus was then being “amplified” in pigs.

“That’s why anyone that works (in piggeries) is at high risk,” Minister Littleproud said.

“We’ve now got 25 piggeries across the eastern seaboard and South Australia where we (have) found cases.

“There’s around 15 cases of Japanese encephalitis at the moment … across our health system. Tragically two people have lost their lives.”

Mr Littleproud said it was also important that people take precautions, such as using insect repellent and wearing appropriate clothing.

He said only one in a hundred people who get the virus will have serious symptoms.

“It is very serious if you do get it, and the fact that we’ve lost two Australians already says the seriousness of it, and that’s why we’ve acted quickly to get ahead of this,” he said.

“We’re working at all tiers of government to make sure that we try and contain this and eradicate (it) as best we can, and as quickly as we can.”

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