Japanese encephalitis – Australia
As of the 6th of April 2022, 35 people are reported to have Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV) in Australia. Out of the 35 people, 23 have JEV: 10 cases in New South Wales, 2 cases in Queensland, 3 cases in South Australia & 8 cases in Victoria. The remaining 12 cases are probable: 2 cases in Queensland, 5 cases in South Australia, 3 cases in Victoria & 2 cases in New South Wales.
The circumstances of infection were not reported.
A total of 3 people have died as a result of JEV. One in New South Wales, one in South Australia and one in Victoria.
Photo: Culex mosquito.
Japanese encephalitis is an infection of the brain caused by the Japanese encephalitis virus. While most infections result in little or no symptoms, occasional inflammation of the brain occurs. In these cases, symptoms may include headache, vomiting, fever, confusion and seizures. This occurs about 5 to 15 days after infection.
The virus is generally spread by mosquitoes, specifically those of the Culex type. Pigs and wild birds serve as a reservoir for the virus. The disease mostly occurs outside of cities.
Prevention is generally with the Japanese encephalitis vaccine, which is both safe and effective. Other measures include avoiding mosquito bites. Once infected, there is no specific treatment, with care being supportive. Permanent problems occur in up to half of people who recover.
The disease occurs in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific. bout 68 000 symptomatic cases occur a year, with about 17 000 deaths. Often, cases occur in outbreaks.
The disease was first described in Japan in 1871. Despite its name, the disease is now relatively rare in Japan as a result of large-scale immunization efforts.
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