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Japanese Encephalitis vaccine access expanded

Wentworth and Balranald Shire locals can now be vaccinated against Japanese Encephalitis (JE).

To be vaccinated, you must live or work in Balranald or Wentworth Shire, be over 50 years old and spend four hours or more per day outside.

Research has shown that one in 11 people tested in areas known to have JE circulating had developed antibodies from past infection.

Director of Far West and Western NSW Public Health, Priscilla Stanley, thanked the 1048 participants from communities across Griffith, Temora, Corowa, Balranald and Dubbo who provided blood samples in a survey to detect the number of people exposed to JE but who may not have shown symptoms.

“Vaccination is an important part of the public health response, but currently, the global supply of JE vaccine is very limited so we’re urging people to protect themselves by avoiding mosquito bites altogether, particularly as we head into warmer months.”

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Only people who were not previously vaccinated and could only be exposed in their shires, were included in the results.

Thirteen people in NSW have been clinically diagnosed with JE this year and two of those people sadly died.

All were estimated to have acquired the virus between mid-January and the end of February this year.

JE is spread to humans by infected mosquitoes.

People are not able to pass the virus to other people.

Humans cannot get infected with the virus by touching an infected animal or eating animal products, including pork products.

For those not receiving vaccinations, the NSW Health Service suggest you protect yourself and your family by:

  • covering openings such as windows and doors with insect screens and checking there are no gaps in them
  • removing items that might collect water (such as old tyres, and empty pots) outside your house where mosquitoes can breed
  • improving drainage on your property so that water does not become stagnant
  • wearing light, loose-fitting long-sleeved shirts, long pants and covered footwear and socks, especially around dusk and dawn
  • applying repellent to all areas of exposed skin, using repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus
  • re-applying repellent regularly, particularly after swimming, being sure always to apply sunscreen first and then apply repellent
  • using insecticide sprays, vapour dispensing units and mosquito coils to repel mosquitos (mosquito coils should only be used outside).

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