About the 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.
To find out where you can be vaccinated locally, click here
The best protection against JEV is to avoid being bitten. More details are available by clicking here
- The Better Health Channel also 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
- To access translated resources, click here
Getting vaccinated against JEV
The Department of Health has expanded access to the Japanese encephalitis virus vaccine. More Victorians are now eligible to be vaccinated against Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) with further expansions to the eligibility criteria, found here.
High-risk local government areas
People aged 2 months or older who live or routinely work in any of the following local government areas of Campaspe, Gannawarra, Greater Shepparton, Indigo, Loddon, Mildura, Moira, Swan Hill, Wodonga, Towong, Benalla, Wangaratta and Strathbogie, AND:
- regularly spend time engaging in outdoor activities that place them as risk of mosquito bites, OR
- are experiencing homelessness, OR
- are living in conditions with limited mosquito protection (e.g. tents, caravans, dwellings with no insect screens), OR
- are engaging in outdoor flood recovery (clean-up) efforts, including repeated professional or volunteer deployments.*
*Vaccination can be administered before arrival in flood affected areas to those from other regions deployed for recovery efforts by arrangement.
The risk of exposure to mosquitoes is low at an elevation of greater than 500 metres. Therefore, JE vaccination is only recommended for individuals who spend significant time outdoors below this elevation in these local government areas.
No restriction to local government areas
- People who work at, reside at, or have a planned non-deferable visit to a:
- piggery, including but not limited to farm workers and their families (including children aged 2 months and older) living at the piggery, transport workers, veterinarians and others involved in the care of pigs
- property that has been confirmed to be infected with JE virus
- property suspected to be infected with JE virus
- pork abattoir or pork rendering plant.
- Personnel who work directly with mosquitoes through their surveillance (field or laboratory based) or control and management, and indirectly through management of vertebrate mosquito-borne disease surveillance systems (e.g., sentinel animals) such as:
- environmental health officers and workers (urban and remote)
All diagnostic and research laboratory workers who may be exposed to the virus, such as persons working with JE virus cultures or mosquitoes with the potential to transmit JE virus, as per the Australian Immunisation Handbook.
- While there are currently no confirmed cases of JEV in humans in Victoria, it has been detected in mosquitors. Flooding and heavy rainfall across the state mean greater risk of mosquito-borne diseases this season.
- While getting vaccinated is important, everyone should focus on preventing being bitten by mosquitoes. More information and resources on protecting yourself, your loved ones and your property from mosquitoes here.
- The eligibility criteria for the vaccine is based on those most at risk of contracting this virus, and is aligned with criteria in NSW. While current supplies of the vaccine are limited globally, Victoria continues to work with the Commonwealth and other states to make the best use of available vaccines, and to obtain more vaccine when available.
- People living in areas experiencing mosquito activity should undertake these protective measures now and over the coming months to protect themselves against not just JEV, but other mosquito-borne diseases for which no vaccine is available – including Ross River virus, Barmah Forest virus and Murray Valley encephalitis.
- More JEV resources including translated factsheets into more than 37 languages here.
Find out who is eligible in Victoria and NSW:
For more information about vaccine safety, click here
To download a FAQ sheet, click here
If you are eligible by your residential address or workplace, we have created a checklist to help inform you on whether you should be vaccinated. Download this here
JEV serosurvey results
A survey of more than 800 people in northern Victoria has found the Japanese encephalitis virus has infected more people than first thought, as the vaccination eligibility criteria against this virus continue to expand.
The serosurvey, which asked participants to complete a questionnaire and give a blood sample, found approximately 1 in 30 participants had evidence of having a prior Japanese encephalitis infection. This suggests many more people may have been infected than the number of ill or symptomatic cases reported – 13 – in last year’s mosquito season.
Participants who showed evidence of prior infection were aged between 25 and 90, with a median age of 73, and a majority were male. They were identified in all three regions that took part in the survey – Loddon Mallee, Goulburn Valley, and Ovens Murray.
The serosurvey was run by the Department of Health in collaboration with local public health units and the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory.
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