The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued an Alert Level 2 Travel Health Notice – Practice Enhanced Precautions due to an outbreak of Japanese Encephalitis reported in Australia. Cases initially occurred in 2021-early 2022 in rural locations surrounding the Murray River, particularly close to areas near pig farms around the border between Victoria and New South Wales. In November 2022 the virus was again detected in pigs in the same area, confirming risk of the virus in humans during the current Australian summer season. These are the first cases on Australia’s mainland since 1998.
Japanese Encephalitis is a mosquito-borne viral infection, and although it usually causes mild or no symptoms it can be fatal or result in lifelong neurological deficits if the virus develops. According to the CDC, although most travelers are at very low risk, bite avoidance procedures should be observed and for this current outbreak vaccination is recommended for anyone traveling to the specific area for at least one month. Symptoms may include a fever, headache, vomiting, disorientation, coma or seizures and travelers in the area should seek medical care immediately if any of these develop. The virus primarily occurs in rural agricultural areas. Please refer to the CDC for additional information.