HUMAN cases of Japanese encephalitis have been confirmed within SA, with three cases acquired locally.
Department for Health and Wellbeing's health and protection and licensing services executive director Chris Lease said, following an investigation of 10 people with acute encephalitis identified in the past month, four of these cases can now be confirmed as having JE.
"With three of these people acquiring their infections locally, it is now more important than ever that we all take extra precautions against mosquitoes and continue to 'fight the bite'," he said.
"All 10 people under investigation required hospitalisation, with seven people currently still in hospital, and one person sadly passing away."
The virus was first found officially within SA on Friday, with PIRSA confirming it had been detected in a piggery within the state.
Dr Lease said it was important for people to be cautious and avoid exposure to mosquitos, particularly with the long weekend and Easter approaching.
"People planning activities around the River Murray are warned to be especially vigilant, particularly between dusk and dawn when mosquitos are most active," he said.
Most people who are infected with flaviviruses such as Japanese encephalitis virus, Kokobera virus, West Nile virus, and Murray Valley encephalitis virus are asymptomatic or develop a mild febrile illness.
A small proportion of infected people will develop encephalitis, which may be fatal or cause long-term neurological damage.
Symptoms of encephalitis may include confusion, headaches, neck stiffness, tremors, drowsiness and seizures.
Families with young children should be especially mindful of mosquito bites, as children under fiveyears-of-age have a higher risk of developing encephalitis if infected with Japanese encephalitis virus.
Dr Lease said while there were some vaccines available for flaviviruses, personal and household protective measures remain the first line of defence in avoiding mosquito bites and other mosquito-borne diseases such as Ross River virus infection.
"If you are outside, apply an insect repellent containing DEET or picaridin, and try to stop mosquitoes coming indoors," he said.
"If you are outside, cover up with long, loose fitting and light-coloured clothing. Mosquitoes can bite through tight clothing such as jeans or leggings.
"Mosquito coils can also be useful when outside and aerosol knockdown or surface insect sprays can also help control mosquitoes indoors but always follow instructions on the label.
"Simple changes around the home can help to reduce and eliminate mosquitoes such as cleaning up water around the house to prevent breeding, and installing mosquito-proof mesh on doors and windows.
"It is important that people remain vigilant in protecting themselves against mosquito bites particularly during periods of warmer weather when mosquito activity is high."
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