Victorians are being urged to protect themselves against mosquito bites following possible cases of Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV).
Evidence of the virus has been found in pigs in Echuca, as well as in New South Wales including near the border, and in southern Queensland.
There are no confirmed human cases of the JEV strain in Victoria, however several cases of encephalitis have been identified within the past month.
JEV is a mosquito-borne virus that can develop into encephalitis, which can be potentially life-threatening.
Chief Health Officer, Professor Brett Sutton said the vast majority of Japanese encephalitis infections don’t result in the need for clinical treatment but that it can develop into a serious illness.
“Most people with JEV will have no or very mild symptoms, but anyone who develops a sudden onset of fever, headache and vomiting should see their doctor immediately.”
“People with these symptoms can deteriorate over just a few short days, including suffering a loss of coordination, disorientation, generalised weakness and in some cases issues with movement which can last for years.”
Professor Sutton said the disease can’t be passed between humans and Victorians can take simple steps to protect themselves.
“We can all protect ourselves by avoiding mosquito bites, including covering up, wearing loose fitting clothing and using mosquito repellants.”
People with increased exposure to mosquitoes may be at a higher risk of infection, particularly those in regional areas and who work with or are in contact with pigs, and people camping, working or spending time outdoors in these regions.
Children aged under five years old and older people who are infected with JEV are at a higher risk of developing more severe illness, such as encephalitis.
Reviewed 26 February 2022