Pork supply set to plunge as more than 60 piggeries battle Japanese encephalitis outbreaks in Australia – Already 3 human deaths

Japanese encephalitis outbreak in Australia in 2022
Japanese encephalitis outbreak in Australia in 2022

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment is reminding producers to remain vigilant as more than 60 piggeries across four states battle Japanese encephalitis (JEV) outbreaks.

The virus remains of “significant concern”, and state and federal biosecurity authorities have warned pig and horse owners that the zoonotic disease still poses risks to humans and animals.

Already this year, the mosquito-borne virus has infected 11 people, with three deaths nationwide, and there are more than 60 piggeries with infected herds across New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.

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Within pig herds, abortions, stillbirths, and infertility in adults are all consequences of JEV, while swelling on the brain remains the most prominent among horses. To date, there have been no official reports of the disease in horses.

Australian Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Mark Schipp says while the government is working towards vanquishing the danger, producers will need to continue to put precaution methods into practice.

The best course of action is to try and avoid mosquito bites to yourself and your animals,” he says.

And part of that means reducing mosquito infestations.

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The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, in conjunction with key industry heads, continue to provide producers with updated information regarding Japanese encephalitis.

Those working with pigs, including those who may have a small herd or pet, have been advised to take steps that control mosquitoes, whilst continuing to implement effective biosecurity measures.

It is also recommended that those in care of horses put a hooded rug and a fly mask on their animals to reduce their exposure to mosquitos.

Severe cases of encephalitis, which means swelling on the brain, can be fatal to horses, and symptoms of infection include elevated temperature, jaundice, lethargy, anorexia, incoordination, difficulty swallowing, impaired vision, and lethargy.

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In pigs, unexplained abortions or stillbirths remain the tell-tale sign of a potential outbreak.

In Australia, Japanese encephalitis virus is a nationally notifiable disease which means if an animal is showing suspect signs of the disease, it must be reported to a veterinarian or the national Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888. [Northern Beach Review]

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