Japanese encephalitis virus (JE virus) is a rare but potentially serious infection of the brain that has been detected in Victoria for the first time.
The virus is mostly spread to humans from pigs via mosquito bites and cannot be spread from human to human. It also cannot be acquired by eating pork.
A comprehensive response across human and animal health sectors is underway in Victoria to implement control measures. Examples of this response include; vaccinating those at risk, surveillance of animals for JE virus, public health information, and mosquito testing and control activities.
The Department of Health has developed this social media pack to support other departments and key stakeholder groups to promote important prevention messages to protect the community.
• Japanese encephalitis virus causes a rare but potentially serious infection of the brain and is spread through mosquito bites.
• While most cases will have no symptoms, those that do develop symptoms may experience a fever and headache, or more serious symptoms like nausea, vomiting or seizures.
• Japanese encephalitis has been detected for the first time in Victoria, with main areas of concern being along the Murray and in northern Victoria.
• While it is important to be aware of the presence of JE virus in specific geographic areas, the risk of contracting JE and developing serious illness still remains low. However, anyone being bitten by mosquitoes in these areas is potentially at risk.
• Children aged under 5 years old and older people who are infected with JE virus are at a higher risk of developing more severe illness, such as encephalitis.
• For more information see your GP or go to https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/japanese-encephalitis
• Information and updates about the Department of Health’s JE virus response can be found here: https://www.health.vic.gov.au/infectious-diseases/japanese-encephalitis-in-victoria
Mosquito bite prevention
• Victorians are being reminded to protect themselves from mosquito bites particularly when spending time outdoors.
• If you’re spending time in north or north western Victoria or near the Murray region – don’t forget to pack mosquito repellent that contains DEET or picaridin.
• There are simple steps to avoid mozzie bites and protect yourself and your family from mosquito-borne diseases, like Japanese Encephalitis.
• People should wear long, loose fitting clothes and use mosquito repellent containing picaridin or DEET on all exposed skin.
• Ensure that insect screens are fitted to doors and windows around the home or in caravans are in good condition, or insect flaps on tents are intact and closed.
• Reduce mosquito breeding sites by getting rid of stagnant water around the home or campsites.
• More information including multi-language communications materials is available on the Beat the Bite campaign page at https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/campaigns/beat-the-bite