22nd March 2023 – (Sydney) The health authorities in Australia’s Western Australia state have issued a warning to residents and tourists in the Kimberley region to avoid contact with mosquitos, following an outbreak of Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) in the area.
Positive samples were collected in February 2023 from chicken flocks in Kununurra and Wyndham in Kimberley region, along with other positive samples reported in pigs last week, indicating the risk of JEV infection in the region is ongoing, according to the statement released by the state’s department of health on Tuesday.
JEV, transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, is a vaccine-preventable virus.
Jelena Maticevic, the health department’s acting director of communicable disease control, has warned of the significant risk that JEV poses to the human population, urging anyone with symptoms to seek urgent medical advice.
“Most people infected will have no or very mild symptoms and will fully recover. However, a small percentage develop severe illness including encephalitis (brain inflammation), which can lead to serious complications and death,” she said, adding that anyone who develops a sudden onset of fever, headache, vomiting, seizures or disorientation should seek urgent medical attention.
Since January 2021 in Australia, 45 cases of human JEV have been reported in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and the Northern Territory, with seven deaths recorded.
There have been no reported human cases of the mosquito-borne disease in the state of Western Australia.