Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) has been confirmed in pigs in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, and South Australia. There have been confirmed cases in humans.
The virus had been detected in a number of piggeries across eastern Australia.
JE is a mosquito-borne viral disease that can cause reproductive losses and encephalitis in some animals.
The disease occurs mostly in pigs and horses, but it can also cause serious illness in people, albeit in very rare cases.
It spreads by mosquitos carrying it from either pigs or water birds, but it doesn’t transmit from animal to animal, or animal to human, or human to human, for that matter. And you can’t catch it from eating pork.
Authorities are asking pig and horse owners in eastern and southern Australia to be on the lookout for signs of JE in their animals.
Given this is a mosquito-borne disease, anything you can do to keep them away from you and your animals will help, whether that’s placing mosquito traps around pig pens or putting a hooded rug and some mosquito repellent on your horses.
If you think an animal has JE, you must report it. Call your local vet or the national Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.
This is a wake-up call that biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility. It’s on all of us now to do our bit to protect our animals and ourselves.
The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and the Department of Health are collaborating closely, together with state and territory counterparts.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt said all agencies are meeting regularly and working together planning the next steps of this situation.
“Work is underway for targeted vaccinations however, prevention is always better than a cure and there are simple steps we can all take to avoid our exposure to infected mosquitos,” Minister Hunt said.
“People in areas of high mosquito activity in Eastern Australia should use mosquito repellent containing picaridin or DEET on all exposed skin.
“Wear long, loose fitting clothing when outside, and ensure accommodation, including tents, are properly fitted with mosquito nettings or screens.
“We will continue to meet with health authorities in the states and territories to progress the public health response to this disease.”
For more information go to: www.outbreak.gov.au .
Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV):
· The Australian Government Department of Health and Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment are collaborating closely, together with state and territory counterparts.
- People working with pigs, including those who may have a small herd or pet pig, should take steps to control mosquitoes, as well as continue to use effective biosecurity measures.
- Horse owners can also put measures in place to help their horses avoid mosquito bites. During hotter months put a light cotton rug on them, a fly mask, and if the horse allows, apply a safe insect repellent. Do not spray the repellent around or above their eyes.
- You can find out more at www.farmbiosecurity.com.au and the National Pork Biosecurity Manual at www.farmbiosecurity.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Pork-Biosecurity-Manual-Update.pdf which provides in-depth detail on biosecurity practices and management in piggeries.