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Japanese Encephalitis in Australia (ex Indonesia)

11 Feb 2015

The first confirmed case of Japanese encephalitis (JE) has been reported in a resident of Victoria, southern Australia.

The case is a 45-year-old male traveller who imported the infection; he developed symptoms 4 days after his return from the island of Bali in Indonesia. The man spent a total of 9 days in Bali, 2 in Seminyak and 7 in Canggu in the southwest of the island. Canggu is located 15 minutes north of the popular tourist destinationn of Seminyak and 35 minutes north of Denpasar airport.

The man had not been vaccinated against JE; travelling companions gave a history of exposure to mosquitoes around the accommodation.

Nine cases of JE have been reported in Australia since 2001. The majority of cases were linked to the north of the country in the Torres Strait, which borders Papua New Guinea, a country which, like Indonesia, is endemic for JE.

Advice for Travellers

Japanese encephalitis vaccine is sometimes recommended for travellers to Indonesia. A full risk assessment is essential to identify those considered to ba at risk. This report highlights the particular importance of mosquito bite avoidance measures in unvaccinated travellers.