26 September 2023

State on alert for nasty mozzie virus

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The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) says Western Australians should be on alert for Japanese encephalitis (JE), a mosquito-borne disease affecting pigs and horses.

“JE virus can also cause disease in people and is a rare but serious health concern,” the Department said in a statement.

“JE has recently been detected in piggeries in Victoria, NSW, Queensland and South Australia, and while there are currently no confirmed detections in Western Australia, the State should be prepared,” it said.

JE is not a food safety concern and commercially produced pork meat or pork products are safe to consume.”

DPIRD said animals most commonly became infected through the bite of infected mosquitoes, though vector-free transmission of the virus by direct contact, semen and embryos had been reported in pigs.

“The normal lifecycle of JE cycles between waterbirds, pigs and mosquitoes, which may then spill over to horses and humans,” it said.

“The most common clinical signs of JE in pigs are reproductive losses including abortions, mummified foetuses and stillborn or weak piglets.

“Tremors and convulsions are occasionally seen in pigs up to six months of age.”

The Department said in horses, most clinical disease was mild and might be unrecognised, however, fever, decreased or no appetite, lethargy, wobbliness and incoordination might occur, and some horses might die.

“Pig and horse owners should be highly vigilant for signs of this disease and should also manage mosquitoes on their property to minimise potential human and animal exposure to mosquito-borne viruses,” DPIRD said.

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