More Territorians can now access Japanese encephalitis vaccination

NT Government

More Territorians are now eligible to receive the free Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) vaccine.

Until October 2024, eligibility for the vaccine has been expanded to ensure people living in high-risk areas are protected.

JEV vaccination is recommended for people at highest risk of infection in the NT. This includes people who work directly with mosquitoes or feral pigs through surveillance or control and management, such as environmental health officers and workers, entomologists, vets and rangers. It also includes people who live in a high risk remote area or within 10 kilometres of a positive human case.

Vaccination eligibility has now been extended to include people who live, work or attend school in Greater Darwin, including Palmerston, and Katherine. People from Tennant Creek in the Barkly region, rural Darwin and all remote communities in the Top End and East Arnhem regions are already eligible.

People eligible for vaccination should call their closest provider to book a free vaccination, such as a community care centre or remote health clinic. Most people require only one dose, and booster doses are not required.

JEV is a serious mosquito-borne disease that occurs in the NT. It is transmitted from infected animals, particularly water birds and pigs, to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. On rare occasions, JEV infection can result in brain damage and even death.

There have been three cases of JEV recorded in the NT since February 2021, including one death.

There have been no further cases of JEV detected since 2022, however the community is reminded to remain vigilant and take active steps to prevent mosquito bites.

Those most at risk of mosquito borne diseases include people close to mosquito breeding areas after sundown, people in remote communities and anyone visiting parks and recreation areas where mosquitoes may be active.

The high risk period for serious mosquito-borne diseases in the NT is from January to June.

To minimise the chance of being bitten by mosquitoes, people should:

· Avoid areas with high mosquito numbers close to wetlands where birds and feral pigs might be present

· Wear protective clothing outdoors to cover feet, legs, and arms. Loose, light-coloured clothing is best

· Avoid being outside when mosquitoes are most active. This happens between dusk and dawn

· Use personal protective repellents containing diethyl toluaminde (DEET), picaridin or PMD (extract of lemon eucalypt) on areas of exposed skin

· Make sure infants and children are adequately protected against mosquito bites

· Use mosquito coils, candle heated or gas operated devices with insecticide treated pads in sheltered or low wind outdoor areas

· Make sure fly-screens in houses or caravans are in good condition

· If camping, sleep in a mosquito-proof tent or under a mosquito net.

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