Free vaccines will protect River Murray communities against Japanese encephalitis virus
SA Health is urging anyone who lives in the Murraylands and regularly spends time outdoors to get vaccinated against a deadly mosquito-borne disease.
Murraylands residents who spent a lot of time outdoors are being encouraged to get vaccinated against a deadly mosquito-borne disease.
The Japanese encephalitis virus first emerged in South Australia in March, and was detected at piggeries in the Murray Bridge and Coorong districts a few weeks later.
Nine infections and two deaths have been reported in SA this year.
Most people infected by the virus do not experience any symptoms, but in about one per cent cases it leads to swelling of the brain, which can be fatal or cause long-term neurological damage.
Early symptoms may include tiredness, headaches, fever, nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea.
SA Health has recommended that anyone who lives within five kilometres of the River Murray, and spends more than four hours outside per day, get vaccinated before summer arrives.
State Health and Wellbeing Minister Chris Picton said 23,000 doses of vaccine would be made available to locals at a cost of more than $1.8 million.
“We are heading into an increased mosquito season this year and we want South Australians living in high-risk areas to be protected,” he said.
“I encourage eligible residents and workers, especially those around the Murray River, to take advantage of a free vaccine to help keep themselves safe.
“This virus can be deadly, and we all play a part in helping (to) stop its spread.”
The state government will also expand its early detection efforts, including more regular testing of sentinel chickens.
More than 900 South Australians, many of them piggery workers, have already been vaccinated against JEV.
Free vaccines are available at:
Bridgeview Family Practice
Murray Bridge Vaccination Clinic
Murraylands Medical Practice, Tailem Bend
Priceline Murray Bridge
However, the most effective way to avoid catching JEV is to avoid being bitten by a mosquito.
Deputy chief public health officer Chris Lease recommended wearing long, loose-fitting clothes, using insect repellent, installing mosquito-proof screens on doors and windows, and eliminating pools of stagnant water where mosquitos could breed.
More information about JEV vaccination: www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/jevvaccine.
More information about protecting yourself from mosquitoes: www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/fightthebite.
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