26 September 2023

Mozzie virus sting prompts health alert

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Australian Chief Veterinary Officer, Mark Schipp has warned that the Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) has been detected in piggeries in NSW, Queensland and Victoria.

Dr Schipp (pictured) said JEV had been confirmed by laboratory diagnosis at one piggery in Victoria’s north, six piggeries in NSW and in one piggery in Queensland.

He said this was the first time the virus had been detected in southern Australia and biosecurity authorities were working with their human Health Departments to understand the implications and risks of human exposure.

“The Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment are collaborating closely, together with their State and Territory counterparts,” Dr Schipp said.

“We’re asking anyone who works with pigs or horses, even if they’re a pet in the backyard, to keep an eye out for and report any possible signs of this disease.”

He said the most common symptoms in pigs were mummified or stillborn piglets, or piglets who showed neurological problems in the first six months of life.

“Horses can experience a range of symptoms,” Dr Schipp said.

“While most infected horses do not show signs of disease, some more severe signs of JEV in horses include fever, jaundice, lethargy, anorexia and neurological signs which can vary in severity.”

He said JEV was a mosquito-borne viral disease that mostly occurred in pigs and horses, but could cause disease in people and, rarely, other animals.

The Chief Veterinary Officer said animals and people became infected through the bite of infected mosquitoes.

“It cannot be caught through eating pork or pig products and the disease is not transmitted from person to person,” Dr Schipp said.

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