Health News


encephalitis virus

Health officials have recorded two cases of Japanese encephalitis virus in the northern region, including a significant case last year.

In a statement released on Tuesday, NT Health confirmed that a child in the Top End had contracted the virus after showing symptoms in June.

It said the boy had “recovered”, however it was described as an ongoing case.

Officials also said a man in his 70s who was visiting the Top End from Victoria in May last year contracted the virus and has since fully recovered.

These are the second and third cases of the potentially deadly virus in the Northern Territory, after a woman died in February 2021.

The latest cases come amid concerns from residents about feral pigs roaming near homes on the outskirts of Darwin.

The latest figures from 19 July show there have been 40 human cases of Japanese encephalitis in Australia, including five deaths from the latest outbreak.

In March, the federal government’s acting chief medical officer, Dr Sonia Bennett, called it “an infectious disease event of national importance”.

As part of its response to the rising cases, the Commonwealth expanded its vaccination program against the encephalitis virus.

Japanese encephalitis is not spread from person to person, it is spread only through mosquito bites.


What Is Japanese Encephalitis Virus/JEV?

  • JEV is a virus that is transmitted by certain species of mosquitoes.
  • Mosquitoes can transmit it to humans simply by biting them.
  • It is mainly found in parts of Asia and the Torres Strait.
  • Less than 1pc of cases will develop severe disease.

According to NT Health, symptoms include headache, fever, seizures, joint stiffness, and drowsiness, and in severe cases, neurological problems, seizures, and loss of consciousness.

The virus can also infect animals, and NT Health detected 52 wild boars infected with the encephalitis virus in the Victoria Daly, Lichfield, Marakai-Douglas Daly, Cox Daly and West Arnhem regions and the Tewi Islands.

NT Health recommends people wear loose-fitting clothing and closed-toe shoes, apply insect repellent with ingredients including DEET, Pyrcaridine, or lemon eucalyptus extract when outdoors, and avoid going outside in the morning and evening.

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