Australian health authorities have reported an additional human fatality due to the mosquito-borne virus, Japanese encephalitis.
On May 4, officials reported a death in Queensland. This is in addition to fatalities previously reported in New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.
Currently, 38 human cases of Japanese encephalitis have been reported in Australia this year.
On 4 March 2022, Australia’s Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Sonya Bennett, declared the Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) situation a Communicable Disease Incident of National Significance.
According to health officials, most Japanese encephalitis virus infections in people are asymptomatic, however, those with severe infection (which occurs in less than one per cent of cases) may experience neck stiffness, coma, and more rarely, permanent neurological complications or death.
Encephalitis is the most serious clinical consequence of infection. Illness usually begins with symptoms such as sudden onset of fever, headache and vomiting. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek urgent medical attention.
People should try to prevent mosquito bites by using mosquito repellent containing picaridin, DEET or oil of lemon eucalyptus on all exposed skin and reapply every few hours.
Wear long, light colored and loose-fitting clothing as well as covered footwear when outside. Ensure accommodation, including tents, are properly fitted with mosquito nettings or screens.
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