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Four Japanese encephalitis cases in Victoria

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Three Victorians are in hospital suffering from Japanese encephalitis after the virus was found in animals in the state’s north.

Victorian and NSW health officials issued a warning about the virus on Sunday when evidence of the strain was found in pigs in Echuca, near the NSW.

It is understood that since Sunday’s alert four Victorians have contracted the virus.

All four were admitted to hospital and one has since been discharged.

Japanese encephalitis spreads through mosquito bites and people in regional areas who are in contact with pigs may be at particular risk.

Anyone working or camping in country Victoria is being warned to use mosquito repellent and cover up with loose-fitting clothing.

Older people and those aged under five who are infected have a higher risk of developing a serious illness.

Chief health officer Brett Sutton said anyone who developed a sudden fever, headache and vomiting should see their doctor immediately.

“People with these symptoms can deteriorate over just a few short days, including suffering a loss of coordination, disorientation, generalised weakness and in some cases issues with movement which can last for years,” he said on Sunday.

NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant said it was also important to protect from mosquito bites.

“There is no specific treatment for JE or other mosquito-borne viruses. The best way to avoid infection is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes”, Dr Chant said.

NSW Health said fewer than 1 per cent of people infected with Japanese encephalitis experienced symptoms.

-with AAP

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