• Tony Bosworth

Public health alert – mosquito warning as Japanese enchephalitis rears its head



NSW Health has issued a Public Health Alert this evening, calling on the community to protect themselves against mosquito bites after Japanese encephalitis virus was detected in samples from commercial pig farms at five locations in southern and western NSW, indicating the virus is likely circulating in the broader mosquito population.


Now, there are no known cases so far in the Hawkesbury but then again we didn’t have any cane toads until a month ago, so best to be on the safe side, especially with all this rain – ideal breeding conditions for mosquitos.

JE is a mosquito borne disease that may affect animals, including pigs, and humans. The virus is spread by mosquito bites.

“It is really important to protect yourself from mosquito bites as mosquitoes can spread viruses including Japanese encephalitis,” said Dr Kerry Chant, the state’s Chief Health Officer.

Less than 1% of people infected with JE experience symptoms, which typically include fever, joint pain, and rash.


Occasionally, JE can cause a severe neurological illness with headache, convulsions and reduced consciousness.

“There is no specific treatment for JE or other mosquito-borne viruses. The best way to avoid infection is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes”, Dr Chant said.

Simple actions to avoid mosquito bites include the usual:

· Cover up as much as possible with light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and covered footwear when outside.

· Use an effective insect repellent on exposed skin and reapply within a few hours. The best mosquito repellents contain Diethyl Toluamide (DEET), Picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

· Use insecticide sprays, vapour dispensing units (indoors) and mosquito coils (outdoors) to clear rooms or repel mosquitoes from an area.

· Cover all windows, doors, vents and other entrances with insect screens.

· Remove any water-holding containers outside the house where mosquitoes could breed.

For further information on mosquito-borne disease and ways to protect yourself go to:

www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/pests/vector/Pages/resources.aspx

Fact sheets on specific mosquito-borne diseases, including Japanese encephalitis Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus, are available at:

www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/pests/vector/Pages/factsheets.aspx






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