National communicable disease group tasked with JEV response

A national expert working group has been set up to support government responses to human cases of Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV).

JEV was declared a Communicable Disease Incident of National Significance in March after being detected in piggeries in NSW, South Australia, Queensland and Victoria.

JEV is spread only through mosquito bites, and while most people will exhibit no symptoms at all if infected, illness can occur.

Symptoms usually start with a sudden onset of fever, headache and vomiting.

A small proportion of people infected (less than one percent), may develop encephalitis and experience symptoms including neck stiffness, severe headache and coma, and more rarely, permanent neurological complications or death.

Anyone experiencing these symptoms, where there has been high mosquito activity, should be tested after other common causes have been excluded.

Vaccines will be made available to those most at risk of infection, based on locality and profession. More information about priority vaccination can be found on the Department of Health website.

JEV cannot be transmitted from human to human nor by consuming meat from an infected animal. Applying a mosquito repellent containing picaridin or DEET on all exposed skin can provide protection, along with wearing long, loose-fitting clothing when outside. Mosquito nets or screens should be properly fitted to accommodation and tents.

For more information about the spread of JEV in people and human health information visit the Department of Health website.