Be alert for Japanese encephalitis this mozzie season

23 Nov 2022

Livestock owners are urged to watch for signs of Japanese encephalitis in their animals, with routine surveillance indicating the virus remains present in parts of regional NSW.

Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW Dugald Saunders said mosquito numbers are expected to rise in the coming weeks, given the extended periods of wet weather across the State.

“As we recover from high rainfall and head into warmer temperatures, the conditions are ideal for Japanese encephalitis to spread,” Mr Saunders said.

“While Japanese encephalitis does not present a food safety risk and all Australian-grown pork remains safe to eat, the virus can cause reproductive failures in pigs, with 50-70 per cent losses reported in previously affected populations.

“We’re encouraging farmers to be on high alert for ill livestock, with clinical signs of infection including a high temperature, jaundice, lethargy, anorexia and neurological signs including incoordination and impaired vision.

“If you suspect Japanese encephalitis in your stock, you must report it to the 24-hour Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888.”

Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said Japanese encephalitis can also impact humans.

“We’re encouraging people who live or work frequently in areas identified as having Japanese encephalitis to protect themselves with the vaccine,” Mr Hazzard said.

“It’s also important to take additional measures and wear light, long-sleeved clothing, apply repellent to exposed skin, improve drainage where possible to minimise stagnant water and cover windows and doors with insect screens.”

The Japanese encephalitis vaccine is recommended for people aged two months or older who live or routinely work in 41 Local Government Areas with identified Japanese encephalitis risk in the south and west of NSW who meet the eligibility criteria.

Community members are advised to call ahead and make an appointment with a GP or pharmacist and let them know it is for the Japanese encephalitis vaccine, because a few days’ notice may be required to order in the vaccine. Pharmacists who have completed appropriate training are able to provide Japanese encephalitis vaccines in NSW.

To find out if you are eligible, visit www.health.nsw.gov.au/infectious/jev/pages/vaccination.aspx

For more livestock-related information about the virus, visit https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/biosecurity/animal/info-vets/japanese-encephalitis

MEDIA: Natasha Wallace | Minister Hazzard | 0439 484 015      
Sally Taylor | Minister Saunders | 0428 149 401