01 April 2022

NSW Health is urging the community to stay vigilant and take precautions against mosquito bites following confirmation that a further two NSW residents were infected with Japanese encephalitis (JE) earlier this year.

A total of 10 NSW residents have now been infected with JE, with the latest two confirmed cases in the Riverina region.

The ninth case is a young man from Carrathool Shire LGA whose infection onset was in January. The 10th case is a man aged in his 70s from Lockhart Shire LGA whose infection onset was in late February.

early evidence shows mosquito numbers are declining it remains important that people throughout the state continue to take steps to avoid mosquito bites.

Recent flooding in the Northern Rivers Region has led to an increase in local mosquito populations so people in this area need to be particularly vigilant.

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.

It’s important to avoid being bitten by mosquitos. Simple actions you can take include:

  • Avoid going outdoors during peak mosquito times, especially at dawn and dusk, and close to wetland and bushland areas.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants outdoors (reduce skin exposure). Also wear shoes and socks where possible. There are insecticides (e.g. permethrin) available for treating clothing for those spending extended periods outdoors.
  • Apply repellent to all areas of exposed skin, especially those that contain DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus which are the most effective against mosquitoes. The strength of a repellent determines the duration of protection with the higher concentrations providing longer periods of protection. Always check the label for reapplication times.
  • Reapply repellent after swimming. The duration of protection from repellent is also reduced with perspiration, such as during strenuous activity or hot weather so it may need to be reapplied more frequently.
  • Apply the sunscreen first and then apply the repellent. Be aware that DEET-containing repellents may decrease the sun protection factor (SPF) of sunscreens so you may need to re-apply the sunscreen more frequently.
  • For children in particular - most skin repellents are safe for use on children aged three months and older when used according to directions, although some formulations are only recommended for children aged 12 months and older - always check the product. Infants aged under three months can be protected from mosquitoes by using an infant carrier draped with mosquito netting that is secured along the edges.
  • If camping, ensure the tent has fly screens to prevent mosquitoes entering.
  • Mosquito coils and other devices that release insecticides can assist reducing mosquito bites but should be used in combination with topical insect repellents.
  • Reduce all water holding containers around the home where mosquitoes could breed. Mosquitoes only need a small amount of liquid to breed.

In line with national reporting structures, NSW Health reports any new cases and locations on our website.

NSW Health has secured JE vaccine for groups recommended by the Communicable Disease Network of Australia (CDNA) because they are at higher risk of exposure.

Further information, as per the CDNA Guidance is available from the Department of Health.

For further information on mosquito-borne disease and ways to protect yourself go to Japanese encephalitis.