Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine

Japanese encephalitis is a rare but serious infection caused by the Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV). It is spread to humans through bites from mosquitos, which become infected through biting infected pigs and waterbirds.

Transmission cannot occur from human to human or by eating or coming into contact with an infected animal.

JEV can be found in parts of Asia and the Torres Strait region of Australia. Recently, JEV has been detected in humans, animals and mosquitos in mainland Australia in parts of South Australia, New South Wales, Queesnland and the Northern Territory.

Most people who are infected do not have symptoms. However, for a small number of people, it can result in severe disease and even death.

Japanese Encephalitis vaccination is recommended for:

  • People are travelling to Asia and the Torres Strait region of Australia and plan to:
  • travel in rural areas and work or undertake outdoor activities in high-risk areas
  • spend a month or more in high-risk areas

In NSW, a free Japanese encephalitis virus vaccination is available for people aged 2 months or older who live or routinely work in any of the affected Local Government Areas and:

  • regularly spend time outdoors placing them at risk of mosquito bites, or
  • are experiencing homelessness, or
  • are living in conditions with limited mosquito protection (e.g. tents, caravans, dwellings with no insect screens), or
  • are engaging in outdoor flood recovery (clean-up) efforts, including repeated professional or volunteer deployments.

A free JEV vaccination is also recommended for people who live in any part of NSW and:

Work, live, or are visiting a:

    • piggery, including farm workers and their families (including children aged 2 months and older) living at the piggery, pig transport workers, veterinarians (including veterinary students and nurses) and others involved in the care of pigs
    • pork abattoir or pork rendering plant

Work directly with mosquitoes through their surveillance (field or laboratory-based) or control and management, and indirectly through management of vertebrate mosquito-borne disease surveillance systems (e.g., sentinel animals) such as:

    • environmental health officers and workers (urban and remote)
    • entomologists

All diagnostic and research laboratory workers who may be exposed to the virus, such as people working with JEV cultures or mosquitoes with the potential to transmit JEV; as per the Australian Immunisation Handbook.

Pharmacists in NSW can administer the vaccine for people aged 5 and over. Speak to our pharmacists if you are eligible for a free vaccine as part of the National Immunisation Program Schedule.

Reference: healthdirect.gov.au

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