Japanese encephalitis virus 

Japanese encephalitis virus (JE virus) was detected in Victoria for the first time early in 2022. JE virus is a rare, but potentially serious, infection of the brain caused by a virus spread to humans through mosquito bites.

The virus is mostly spread to humans from pigs via mosquito bites and cannot be spread from human to human. It also cannot be spread by eating pork. 

A comprehensive response across human and animal health sectors is under way in Victoria and to implement control measures. Examples of this response include; vaccinating those at risk, surveillance of animals for JE virus, public health information, and mosquito testing and control activities.

The Beat the Bite website on the Better Health Channel provides information about mosquito borne diseases and mosquito bite prevention for the general public. Find out more by clicking here.

For more information, including the Victorian Department of Health's latest response to the virus, click here

To download a fact sheet from the Ovens Murray Public Health Unit, click here


Getting vaccinated against JEV

Those eligible for a free vaccine in Victoria are:

  • Those aged over 50, spend a significant amount of time outdoors (more than four hour a day) and live or work in one the local government areas of Campaspe, Gannawarra, Greater Shepparton, Indigo, Loddon, Mildura, Moira, Swan Hill, Wodonga and Towong. 
  • It is also recommended for people who work at or live on a piggery; people who work directly with pigs (i.e. pig transport, veterinarians and others involved in the care of pigs); people who work in pork abattoirs or rendering plants; and people who work directly in mosquito surveillance (field or laboratory) or work in mosquito control.

In NSW, you are eligible if you:

  • Live or work in any of the following Local Government Areas (LGAs): Albury, Balranald, Berrigan, Carrathool, Dubbo Regional, Edward River, Federation, Goulburn Mulwaree, Greater Hume, Griffith, Lockhart, Murray River, Temora, or Wentworth AND
  • Are aged 50 years or older AND
  • Spend significant time outdoors (four hours per day).

Find out more:

To find out when a clinic providing a JEV vaccine is coming to a town near you, click here and look under outreach vaccination services.

Alternatively, check with your GP about availability.

For more information about vaccine safety, click here


JE virus study

The Victorian Department of Health and Ovens Murray Public Health Unit are conducting a study in this area to understand more about the risk of JE virus.

Why?

JE virus is a rare but potentially serious mosquito-borne disease.

By providing blood for this study, you will help us understand how many people have been infected with the virus. This will help us plan our vaccination and other prevention activities.

What’s involved?

To participate, you will need to:

  • Complete a short questionnaire
  • Give a small blood sample – if you are already getting blood taken for another reason this will not require an extra needle

You will be informed of your individual test results.

Who can be involved?

Participants must not have been:

  1. Previously vaccinated for JE virus
  2. Previously diagnosed with JE virus
  3. Born in one of the following countries: Bangladesh, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, China, Guam, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Russia, Saipan, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor-Leste or Vietnam  

All ages are welcome, however children aged under 18 years must be accompanied (and have consent provided) by a parent or guardian.

How do I take part?

This study is being conducted through your local pathology providers.

  • Dorevitch Pathology Wodonga – 101 Hume St , open Monday to Saturday, 7.30am to 5pm
  • Dorevitch Pathology Wangaratta – 74 Ovens St, open Monday to Friday 7am to 5pm and Saturday 8am to 11am.
  • Dorevitch Pathology at Rutherglen Medical Centre, 1/172 High St, open Monday to Thursday 8am to 11am.

You will be provided with a study information sheet. If you are happy to participate, please complete the consent form and questionnaire. Once these are completed, a staff member will give you a pathology slip for the study so that you can have your sample collected.

The results of the study will be pooled and published together. No individual results will be published. We will provide you with a summary of the study results once they are available. The study findings will also be published in both investigator theses and journals.

If you have any questions about this study, please do not hesitate to contact the Ovens Murray Public Health Unit on phu.communications@awh.org.au or by phoning (02) 6048 1000.


JEV Forum

In partnership with the Department of Health and Agriculture Victoria and Ovens Murray, Loddon Mallee and Goulburn Valley public health units a JEV Forum was held in April 2022.

Speakers included Professor Deborah Friedman, Deputy Chief Health Officer – Communicable Diseases, Victorian Department of Health and Dr Graeme Cooke, Chief Veterinary Officer, Agriculture Victoria.

To listen to the recording of the event, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsJYWZfgtno