NSW Health continues to urge the public to be vigilant and take precautions against mosquito bites as NSW has recorded its first death of a person with Japanese encephalitis (JE).
Sadly, NSW Health can confirm a man from the Griffith region who was aged in his 70s died in a Sydney hospital on February 13. Post-mortem testing subsequently found he had contracted the JE virus, which was confirmed today (Wednesday). NSW Health expresses its sincere condolences to his loved ones.
There are now three known cases of JE in NSW residents, including two cases announced previously, a man and child, who are currently being cared for in Victorian hospitals.
Several more people in NSW are undergoing further testing for JE, and more cases are expected to be confirmed over the coming days and weeks.
Locally acquired cases of JE have never previously been identified in NSW in animals or humans. Since late February 2022, the JE virus has been confirmed in samples from pig farms in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.
NSW Health is working closely with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, the Commonwealth Department of Health and other state and territory agencies to determine the extent to which the virus is circulating.
The JE virus is spread by mosquitoes and can infect animals and humans. The virus cannot be transmitted between humans, and it cannot be caught by eating pork or other pig products.
There is no specific treatment for JE, which can cause severe neurological illness with headache, convulsions and reduced consciousness in some cases.
NSW Health has procured JE vaccine and will continue to work with other jurisdictions to make vaccine available to at risk populations.
At this stage of the response, vaccination is being prioritised for workers on the affected pig farms and their family members living on-site.
As more vaccine becomes available in Australia further vaccination planning in NSW will be informed by the extent to which the virus is circulating, which communities may be most at risk from infection and advice from expert bodies, including the Communicable Diseases Network of Australia. The health and safety of the community remains our priority.
The best thing people throughout the state can do to protect themselves and their families against JE is to take steps to avoid mosquito bites.
Simple actions you can take include:
For further information on mosquito-borne disease and ways to protect yourself, refer to
Fact sheets on specific mosquito-borne diseases, including Japanese encephalitis Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus, are available at vector borne disease fact sheets.