Detection of Japanese encephalitis virus in North Burnett region
Thursday 7 April 2022
Wide Bay Public Health Unit is asking residents and travellers in the North Burnett to take extra care to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, following the detection of Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) in the region.
It’s important for all Queenslanders to take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, to minimise the risk of contracting mosquito-borne illnesses like JEV, and detections in the Mundubbera and Monto/Mulgildie areas are a reminder to all local residents and those travelling through the region.
You can minimise the chance of being bitten by mosquitoes by:
- regularly applying and reapplying insect repellent containing diethyl toluamide (DEET) or picaridin
- following all directions and precautions on mosquito repellent product labels, especially for infants
- wearing long, loose clothing (light-coloured clothes are best)
- using a plug-in insecticide vaporiser (indoors) or mosquito coils (outdoors) if appropriate
- using a mosquito net over beds (when there is no air conditioning or screens)
- ensuring insect screens on all doors and windows, especially in sleeping areas are intact so mosquitoes can’t enter your home or accommodation.
Around your properties, it’s also important to inspect for common mosquito breeding sites, clean up debris, empty and store any outdoor containers in a dry place, undertake frequent lawn mowing, use approved spray safely and ensure there is no stagnant water around your home. Common locations of stagnant water in the yard include pot plants, buckets, tarpaulins, trampolines or puddles at ground level.
Mosquito bites can be experienced at any time of day, but some species are most active at dusk and dawn.
There have been no confirmed human cases of JEV in the North Burnett region.
JEV is a mosquito-borne viral disease. The main mosquito vector Culex annulirostris is a very common and widespread mosquito. It feeds on a range of animals, typically with a peak of biting at dawn and dusk and can fly to a distance of around 5 to 10km.
JEV is endemic in much of Asia and parts of the Pacific. Until 2022, local JEV detections in Australia had been limited to intermittent detections on the outer islands of the Torres Strait and one human case of JEV infection on Cape York Peninsula in 1998.
JEV is a nationally notifiable disease in both humans and animals.
JEV is transmitted to humans through the bite of a mosquito that has bitten an infectious animal, usually wading birds and sometimes pigs. JEV is associated with reproductive losses in pigs and encephalitis in horses. Wading birds and pigs (including feral pigs) are considered to be important reservoirs of infection as they can be a source of infection for mosquitoes that can then infect humans. This is not the case with horses.
Most human infections of JEV cause no symptoms or mild symptoms such as headache or fever. A person with severe disease may present with inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), characterised by sudden onset of vomiting, high fever and chills, severe headache, sensitivity to light, neck stiffness, seizures, disorientation and coma. Less than one per cent of people infected may develop a serious illness such as encephalitis.
Children aged under five years of age and older people who are infected with JEV are at a higher risk of developing more severe illness.
There is no risk to humans from consuming pork or pig products. Pork products are safe to eat.
The virus cannot be spread directly from person to person.
Vaccinations are being offered to residents and workers at piggeries. Widescale vaccination of the general population is not recommended at this time.
More information about JEV can be found here: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-events/news/what-is-mosquito-borne-japanese-encephalitis.