Japanese encephalitis update for clinicians – from the Western Public Health Unit

  21 April 2022  Western Public Health Unit   

Clinical advice on Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus and what it means for general practitioners in north west Melbourne.

Dr Finn Romanes, Director Western Public Health Unit (WPHU) has reiterated the following advice for clinicians:

  • Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus has been detected for the first time in parts of Victoria and southern New South Wales. While this is a serious threat to both human and animal health in Victoria there are currently no infected pig farms in the Western Public Health Unit catchment.
  • Parts of north western Victoria and southern New South Wales are currently the most affected by JE, include many regions along the Murray River, from Mildura to Wodonga.
  • Clinicians are strongly recommended to consider and test for JE virus and other arboviruses in patients presenting with unexplained encephalitis or a compatible acute febrile illness, particularly in those who have spent time in the most affected regions, or have had extensive mosquito exposure or contact with pigs.
  • Medical practitioners and pathology services must immediately notify the Victorian Department of Health of any suspected or confirmed case by calling 1300 651 160, 24 hours a day.
  • Clinicians should offer the JE vaccination free of charge to priority groups as identified by the Victorian Department of Health.
  • If you are not able to order and provide the JE vaccine yourself, and you identify a person who is in a priority group for vaccination, you can contact WPHU by email to WPHU@wh.org.au or call 1800 497 111.
  • WPHU will advise you of the closest clinic that is providing JE vaccine for eligible persons.

More information for clinicians about JE virus is available on the Victorian Department of Health website.