Japanese encephalitis current situation

18 Novemer, 2022

NSW Department of Primary Industries has confirmed the first case of Japanese encephalitis (JE) in pigs for the 2022-2023 season.

The testing of still born piglets at Elizabeth Macarthur Agriculture Institute this week confirmed infection with JE virus.

The piglets were from a property in the Murray Local Land Services region, a region that has been heavily flood impacted during winter and a part of the outbreak earlier this year.

This is the first detection of JE in Australia in the 2022-23 summer.  

The disease has not been detected in any Victorian livestock at this time.

More information about the detection in New South Wales can be found on the NSW Department of Primary Industries website.

Agriculture Victoria has been closely monitoring the situation, actively continuing to investigate and test horses and pigs or other livestock (for example, alpaca) presenting with clinical signs consistent with JE virus infection. This work was ramped up in September 2022 and testing to date has not detected the presence of the disease in Victoria.

Agriculture Victoria is supporting the Victorian Department of Health in its ongoing public health response activities.

JE is spread by mosquitoes. Pigs, horses and wild birds are not responsible for spreading the disease, and they do not pass it onto people.  

If you suspect an animal is showing signs of Japanese encephalitis, you must report it either to your local veterinarian, via the 24-hour Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888, via the Notify Now app or to Agriculture Victoria animal health staff.

The Victorian Department of Health conducts mosquito surveillance and provides weekly mosquito-borne disease reports throughout the mosquito breeeding season, which in inland areas typically occurs from early November through to late April the following year, with coastal areas typically starting earlier and ending later.

Background

Earlier this year, Japanese encephalitis was detected in piggeries across Victoria, NSW, Queensland, and South Australia.

There were 23 infected pig properties confirmed in Victoria in the following Victorian local government areas: Gannawarra, Campaspe, Moira, Loddon, Wangaratta, Greater Shepparton, Greater Bendigo and Northern Grampians.

Japanese encephalitis is a notifiable disease under the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994.

Call to action:

  • Be vigilant for signs of mosquito activity and Japanese encephalitis.
  • Continue to use effective biosecurity measures including mosquito control to limit the spread of Japanese encephalitis and to protect people and your livestock.
  • All livestock owners including pig and horse owners must ensure their Property Identify Codes (PICs) are current and update them when required.
  • If you suspect Japanese encephalitis on your property, call the 24-hour Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888, or contact your local vet.

For advice on health and vaccinations, visit the Victorian Department of Health website or to find more information about how you can Protect yourself from mosquito-borne disease on the BetterHealth channel website.

What to do if I suspect Japanese encephalitis in my animals?

Japanese encephalitis is a notifiable exotic disease in Victoria. If you suspect Japanese encephalitis in any animal, but especially in pigs or horses showing any clinical signs, immediately contact your local Agriculture Victoria staff or phone the all-hours Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.

If you suspect you have Japanese encephalitis, contact your doctor and refer to the Victorian Department of Health website.

Page last updated: 21 Nov 2022