Residents in regional NSW are being urged to watch for the signs of Japanese encephalitis, a potentially fatal mosquito-borne virus that can infect humans and animals.
Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW Dugald Saunders said mosquito numbers are expected to rise in coming weeks given the relentless wet weather.
“As we recover from high rainfall and head into warmer temperatures, the conditions are ideal for Japanese encephalitis to spread,” Saunders said.
“While Japanese encephalitis does not present a food safety risk and all Australian-grown pork remains safe to eat, the virus can cause reproductive failures in pigs, with 50-70 per cent losses reported in previously affected populations.”
Symptoms of the virus in animals include: high temperature, jaundice, lethargy, anorexia and neurological signs including incoordination and impaired vision.
“If you suspect Japanese encephalitis in your stock, you must report it to the 24-hour Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888,” Saunders added.
Minister for Health Brad Hazzard urges residents in affected areas to get vaccinated against the virus.
“We’re encouraging people who live or work frequently in areas identified as having Japanese encephalitis to protect themselves with the vaccine,” Hazzard said.
“It’s also important to take additional measures and wear light, long-sleeved clothing, apply repellent to exposed skin, improve drainage where possible to minimise stagnant water and cover windows and doors with insect screens.”