Japanese Encephalitis Virus

Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) has recently been declared a Communicable Disease Incident of National Significance. JEV is a rare but potentially serious infection that can be spread to humans and animals by mosquitoes. The virus cannot be transmitted between humans and cannot be caught by eating pork products.

Areas of concern
Current local areas of concern include: Greater Bendigo, Campaspe, Loddon, Gannawarra, Greater Shepparton, Moira, Wangaratta and Indigo local government areas.

Symptoms and management
While most JEV infections are asymptomatic, fewer than one in 100 people who are infected will experience headache, vomiting, disorientation, seizures, coma and more rarely, permanent neurological complications or death.

Anyone experiencing symptoms, particularly if they’ve visited the Murray River area or been in contact with pigs, should seek urgent medical attention.

Clinicians must consider and test for JEV and other arboviruses in patients with unexplained encephalitis. Any suspected cases must be immediately reported to the Department of Health by calling 1300 651 160 (available 24 hours).

The current public health advice is for people to avoid mosquito bites by using repellent containing picaridin or DEET on all exposed skin. Wear long, loose fitting clothing when outside and ensure all accommodation, including tents or caravans, is properly fitted with mosquito nettings or screens. Click here to learn more.

Vaccination
While there is a vaccine available, it is currently being prioritised for people most at risk, including those who work at piggeries, and pest controllers involved in mosquito management. General practices and workplaces will be working together to deliver a vaccination program to these workers.

  • General vaccine queries from GPs and the general public can be sent to immunisation@health.vic.gov.au
  • Local general practices can express their interest in delivering the vaccine by emailing gpsupport@murrayphn.org.au
  • General practices who do not wish to deliver the vaccines but would like to direct their eligible patients to participating general practices, can email gpsupport@murrayphn.org.au
  • Individuals that do not have a Medicare number will not be charged for the vaccine or serology if the VDRL form is used on the Department's website. General practices can however still charge patients for the consultation.
  • Due to very short supply of JEspect, GP practices will no longer be able to order JEspect via the online ordering platform. If GPs have a person who meets the criteria for use of JEspect then they must email immunisation@health.vic.gov.au to request supply. The factsheet and public websites will be changed to reflect this information.
  • If a general practice has ordered vaccines, experienced a cold chain breach or has any other questions in regards to the vaccine order they have already placed, the practice should contact orders@onelink.com.au
  • Vaccine order amounts - currently due to limited stock, there are ordering thresholds in place per order (maximum of 20 doses of Imojev and two doses of JEspect). Some general practices may require more than this in their initial order if they are vaccinating a large piggery or pork rendering facility. In this case, please place an order and email immunisation@health.vic.gov.au indicating how many extra doses required and the reason why. This will enable the department to increase the amount delivered and prevent the need for multiple deliveries to the same practice within days of each other.

Murray PHN resources

Other resources

 

Page last updated 5 May 2022

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