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Seeking volunteers in Dubbo: Japanese Encephalitis community blood samples

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  • Seeking volunteers in Dubbo: Japanese Encephalitis community blood samples

12 July 2022

Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) is encouraging members of the Dubbo community to volunteer to provide a blood sample and complete a short survey as part of an effort to identify historic infections of the Japanese Encephalitis virus (JEV).

Priscilla Stanley, WNSWLHD Public Health Director, said blood sampling in Dubbo is part of a wider survey also taking place in areas of Murrumbidgee LHD and Far West LHD, which could provide information on how many people have been exposed to JEV in the earlier, warmer months.

Sampling will be undertaken in Dubbo at Connecting Community Services, 31-33 Church Street, on Monday 18 July, Wednesday 20 July, Thursday 21 July and Friday 22 July, from 8.30am to 5pm.

All participants will receive the results of their blood test. To be eligible you must have lived in or near Dubbo between 1 January 2022 – 31 March 2022, or spent a significant amount of time in the area during that period.

All ages are eligible to participate, with those under the age of 16 required to be accompanied by a parent or carer who will need to provide consent.

“Because less than one per cent of people who are infected with JEV experience symptoms, it’s likely people were infected without even knowing it,” Ms Stanley said.

“That’s why we’re asking people in the area to come forward and provide blood, JEV is a serious disease and we’re seeking our community’s support to help us understand more about the virus and how it can be better prevented.

JEV was detected in NSW for the first time in late February. Thirteen people have been diagnosed with JEV since February, and two of them have died. All were estimated to have acquired the illness between mid-January and the end of February.

Keira Glasgow, NSW Health Director of Zoonoses at Health Protection NSW Health, said blood sampling could also provide valuable information on how JEV was introduced into NSW.

“Now that the weather is cooler, mosquito activity has declined and there is currently little risk of active transmission of JEV, but we still do not know why the disease came to Australia this year during our warmer, wetter conditions,” Ms Glasgow said.

“The results of the blood testing will help us understand JEV infection rates, give us a clue on how long ago the virus was introduced into New South Wales, how many people were infected and the behaviours or activities associated with infection.”

Ms Glasgow said it was important only people who lived in the area between January and March 2022 participate, to ensure that the results are useful as possible.

JEV activity may increase again as the weather warms in spring and summer, and these samples will be very useful in helping us prepare NSW Health is working with the NSW Department of Primary Industry, the Commonwealth Department of Health and other stakeholders to plan for such an increase.

In March and April, NSW Health added 54 new JEV specific mosquito monitoring sites across Western, Southern and Northern NSW. Mosquito surveillance ended in the second week of May 2022, once mosquito numbers had fallen. Expanded mosquito monitoring will recommence in spring.

For the latest information on confirmed cases of JEV and advice on how to protect yourself from mosquito-borne diseases visit the NSW Health website.

Further results from the mosquito trapping program are available on the Health Protection NSW website.


Venue: Connecting Community Services, 31-33 Church Street, Dubbo
Dates: Monday 18 July; Wednesday 20 July; Thursday 21 July; Friday 22 July
Time: 8.30am to 5pm daily