Biosecurity advice when Japanese encephalitis is suspected

The epidemiology of Japanese encephalitis (JE) is complex and involves a cycle of virus transmission between waterbirds, infected mosquitoes and susceptible amplifying animal hosts (pigs).

While all piggeries that are exposed to infected mosquitoes are at risk of continuing that cycle and spreading disease, piggeries with confirmed or suspected infection have a higher level of risk and need to implement risk mitigation strategies.

Learn more about controlling mosquitoes in piggeries.

JE is a public health risk. To minimise the risk of infection, all people who work with potentially infected pigs, work in areas in which infected vectors may be present, or handle Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) infected material should take appropriate precautions.

You can protect yourself from vectors by:

  • wearing a loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirt with long pants, and covered shoes
  • using repellents that contain diethyltoluamide (DEET) or picaridin
  • applying insect repellent to all exposed skin during your workday. Ensure you read the repellent label for reapplication times and re-apply accordingly. A range of repellents and insect sprays are available.

Although human infection is primarily via the bite of a mosquito, any potentially JE-infected material must be handled appropriately. Humans may be infected by exposure to infectious material (e.g. via needlestick injuries, aerosols or broken skin or mucous membranes). When examining animals, collecting and handling samples, personnel should wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) which may include:

  • gloves (double-layered)
  • disposable coveralls
  • boots
  • water-resistant dressings covering cuts and abrasions
  • safety eyewear or face shield
  • respirator or face mask (minimum P2).

Hands, face and arms should be washed immediately after sample collection with an effective disinfectant and use disposable PPE.

At risk employees should consider protection against JE with a vaccination. Consult your medial health practitioner or read more about JE vaccination.

Although horses are considered 'dead end' hosts and do not play a role in transmitting JEV, the above precautions should be followed to control possible human exposure to Hendra virus or other zoonotic infections in horses.