Date published: 
11 March 2022
Media type: 
Media release
Audience: 
General public

The Australian Government will invest $69 million to control the spread of the Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV).

Program initiatives aim to prevent exposure to the disease through vaccination and mosquito management systems, to protect people and animals most at risk during the current outbreak.

A multiportfolio response will implement control and public health measures. Key elements of the control package include:

  • $28.18 million to purchase additional JEV vaccines – to be available from late March and into April
  • $17.5 million to support jurisdictions with mosquito surveillance and control activities
  • $5 million for public health communication to ensure people are aware of risk and how to prevent infection
  • $3.5 million for essential supplies to ensure sustained laboratory capacity and capability to test for JEV in humans
  • $4 million to support enhance surveillance activities, such as modelling, geospatial analysis and conducting a serosurvey to better understand and map areas with higher risk of a JEV outbreak
  • $10 million for DAWE will enable support to state and territory agriculture departments in their response to this emergency including surveillance.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said there were currently 15 confirmed human cases of JEV in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria.

“Sadly, it has been confirmed two people, one in Victoria and one in NSW, have died of JEV and I offer my condolences to their families, friends and community,” Minister Hunt said.

“This package will expand and enhance current mosquito control and surveillance strategies and continue our support to states and territories to limit the number of people and animals who are exposed to JEV.

“The Australian Government will also procure vaccines and distribute equitably to states and territories.

“The Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA), in consultation with the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), has prioritised people for vaccination with direct exposure or close-proximity to pigs and mosquitos, and those with high-level occupational exposures in the risk areas.

“There are other simple steps we can all take to prevent contact with infected mosquitos, such as using repellent containing picaridin or DEET on all exposed skin, wearing loose fitting clothing when outside, and ensuring that accommodation is properly fitted with mosquito nettings or screens.”

There are two human JEV vaccines available on the Australian market, Imojev (Sanofi-Aventis Australia) and JEspect (Seqirus). 

Imojev is a single dose vaccine which supports broad use and rapid vaccination, however it not suitable for pregnant women or people who are immunocompromised. JEspect, is given in two dose course and is suitable for most people who can’t receive the Imojev vaccine.

State and Territory Public Health units are co-ordinating and implementing the priority vaccination program, with initial vaccinations underway.

Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia and Deputy Leader of the Nationals, David Littleproud, said mosquito trapping and control is being conducted at all infected piggeries, with movement restrictions in place for properties in Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia.

“JEV is a mosquito-borne viral disease that can cause reproductive losses in pigs and, in some cases, encephalitis in horses,” Minister Littleproud said.

“Commercially produced pork meat or pork products are safe to consume and there are no food safety concerns.

“Our departments are working very closely with their state government counterparts and affected animal industries to ensure a swift and coordinated response.

“We are working with the pig industry to implement appropriate mosquito control measures and trapping and sampling.

“A national surveillance plan is being developed to identify and locate infected mosquitoes, birds, pigs—including feral pigs—horses and humans.

“Anyone who works with pigs or horses should be aware of this disease and protect themselves from being bitten by mosquitos.

“If you suspect an animal is showing signs of the disease, you must report it by contacting your local veterinarian or calling the national Emergency Animal Disease Watch.

“You should also take steps to protect your animals from mosquitoes—for instance, by applying a safe insect repellent and putting a summer rug on horses.”

JEV was declared a Communicable Disease Incident of National Significance on 4 March 2022 by the Chief Medical Officer.

For more information about the current human health situation visit: https://www.health.gov.au/health-alerts/japanese-encephalitis-virus-jev/about

For more information about the current animal health situation visit:

https://www.outbreak.gov.au/current-responses-to-outbreaks/japanese-encephalitis

Former ministers: