Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is spread to humans through mosquito bites and may cause a rare and potentially life-threatening infection of the brain. It was declared a Communicable Disease Incident of National Significance on 4 March 2022.
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 in Victoria 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.
The Victorian and NSW governments announced expanded eligibility criteria* for free JEV vaccination on 14 September 2022, to include people who are aged 50 years or above and spend at least four hours per day outdoors and who reside or usually work in the following local government areas – Albury, Campaspe, Gannawarra, Greater Shepparton, Indigo, Loddon, Mildura, Moira, Swan Hill, Wodonga and Towong. *Please note that this may be subject to change based on surveillance information.
Vaccination information and resources
- General vaccine queries from GPs and the general public can be sent to email@example.com
- Local general practices can express their interest in delivering the vaccine by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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 email@example.com 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
- Department of Health Japanese encephalitis (JEV) resources
- Australian Immunisation Handbook
- Serology and vaccination information for Victorian general practitioners (V3.2)
- VIDRL pathology request form
- Information for health professionals
- Beat the bite resources
- Information for the public
- Information for media
Page last updated 15 September 2022