Japanese encephalitis virus (JE) has been confirmed in pigs in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland. It has also been confirmed in humans in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland.

JE is a mosquito borne disease. It is possible for infected mosquitoes to spread the virus to people and some animals including pigs, horses and water birds.

Protecting your people

There is work underway for a targeted vaccine program for piggery staff. The Australian government is working closely with states and territories to support the distribution of vaccines to at-risk population groups.

To protect yourself and your staff, mosquito control measures need to be implemented in piggeries:

  • Cover-up with a loose-fitting long-sleeved shirt and long pants when outside or in naturally ventilated sheds
  • Use mosquito repellent containing DEET or picaridin on all exposed skin
  • Ensure mosquito control measures occur regularly on your property, including treating or removing potential mosquito breeding sites

For further information on the JE vaccination program, including eligibility; please contact your state or territory’s Department of Health.

Protecting your pigs

The best way to prevent JEV infection in your herd is to reduce the number of mosquitos. Mosquitos breed very quickly in the current conditions. As far as possible, undertake the following actions:

If your herd becomes infected, the impact on pig production is manageable and is likely to be short-term if appropriate vector control takes place.

Protecting our industry

Key messages are:

  • JEV is a mosquito borne virus that impacts humans and animals
  • Commercially produced pork meat and pork products are safe to eat
  • Industry and government are working together to minimise the impact
  • It is likely that more farms will be identified as infected premises
  • As a notifiable Emergency Animal Disease, there are numerous Federal and State legislative instruments that must be initiated and complied with, even if the threat of further spread from infected herds is considered minor
  • The movement of pigs and semen will have very little impact on spread as opposed to mosquitoes and migratory birds that are the usual hosts of JEV
  • Minimising disruption to pig and semen movements is critical to maintaining pig welfare and business continuity
  • Given the current wide range of locations impacted, it is unlikely that restrictions to pig movements will reduce further spread and there is no suggestion JEV can be eliminated through containment of pig herds
Government advice

Federal and jurisdictional health agencies are monitoring the situation closely. For information relevant to your own jurisdiction, visit your state government agency via the links below:

For information regarding the disease incursion, visit outbreak.gov.au or download this fact sheet.

JEV signs and symptoms

Most infected pigs will not show any of these signs and will behave normally while carrying the virus. If you do have some animals behaving abnormally or have noticed large numbers of mosquitos in your herd, be alert.

JEV is a nationally notifiable disease, if you suspect JEV is present in your piggery you must notify government within 24 hours.

To notify government, please contact either:

  • Your herd or local government veterinarian
  • Call the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888 (24 hours a day, every day of the year)

There is no evidence that there will be any risk to subsequent reproduction when re-mating sows previously infected.

Immunity to JEV in infected farms is likely to be established quickly with no long-term effects on productivity. Once the pigs become infected, they are viremic for 4-8 days and then reach immunity after that.

It is anticipated immunity is likely to be quick especially in herds with naturally ventilated open-air sheds.

Info sessions

These info sessions are available for APL members to view. The information presented is relevant to all producers not just those in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.