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NEWSFLASH: How Deadly Are The Mozzies?


Artwork by Ella Stewart

The Japanese Encephalitis Virus (‘JEV’) that you’ve been hearing about recently was discovered at piggeries across Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, and South Australia in February. The mosquito-borne virus has since caused three deaths. 20 Australians have been confirmed as having the virus, with 12 listed as probable cases across Victoria, NSW, South Australia, and Queensland, with more potentially to come.

What is the Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV)?

JEV is a virus spread through mosquito bites with the virus carried from pigs or water birds. These carriers hold the virus in their blood for up to a week. While most humans who have caught JEV have asymptomatic infections, on rare occasions it may lead to severe disease and death. Rest assured, JEV cannot be transmitted from human to human, or by eating meat from an infected animal - but beware the mozzies!

What are the symptoms of JEV in humans?

  • Sudden onset of fever

  • Headache

  • Vomiting

  • Neck stiffness

  • Coma

  • Permanent neurological complications

  • Encephalitis

  • Death

Should I be worried?

Authorities are saying that most people have little cause to be worried. 99 per cent of JEV infections are asymptomatic, and most symptomatic JEV have minor, cold-like symptoms. The fatality rate of symptomatic JEV is 25-30 per cent.

Although it is unlikely you might contract JEV or develop severe symptoms, perhaps now is the time to invest in picaridin-based insect repellents.


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