PCR tests for Japanese encephalitis available | Braidwood Time

New South Wales residents worried about mosquito-borne Japanese encephalitis should be reassured that accurate tests are available to detect the virus, an expert says.

“Tests are readily available in labs across Australia, very accurate tests, to be able to detect Japanese encephalitis,” Dean Whiting, CEO of Pathology Technology Australia, the leading body representing diagnostic technology manufacturers.

Those worried about a recent mosquito bite or reports of the virus in their area “should really not hesitate to ask their GP to send the test to the lab”, said clinical biochemist Mr Whiting .

A man in his 50s became the eighth NSW resident diagnosed with Japanese encephalitis on Friday.

The man, from the Temora area in the NSW Riverina region, was treated in hospital before being released and will continue to recover in the community, NSW Health said.

A woman in her 40s from the Berrigan area, also in the Riverina area, on Wednesday became the seventh person to be diagnosed with the virus.

Japanese encephalitis is caused by mosquito bites and cannot be transmitted from person to person.

Although cases have been recorded in pigs, the disease cannot be caught by eating pork or pork products.

There is no specific treatment for JE, which can cause severe neurological disease with headaches, seizures, and decreased consciousness in some cases.

The best thing people can do to protect themselves and their families from JE is to take steps to avoid mosquito bites.

“If you do end up having a severe case of Japanese encephalitis, it’s best to know you have it early so any acute episodes can be effectively managed and treated,” Whiting said.

JE can be tested in several ways, including PCR tests done via blood or, in severe cases, cerebrospinal fluid.

“When you get an infection like this, your body produces antibodies,” he said.

“If you’re concerned you may have had Japanese encephalitis (previously), a quick blood test will tell you if you have antibodies on board.”

The way JE cases are announced by NSW Health will change from Friday as the situation in the state evolves.

NSW Health will finalize new cases and locations at 4 p.m. daily and report them the next day on the NSW Health website, in the same way that COVID-19 cases are published.

* Avoid outdoors, bush and wet areas during peak mosquito times – dawn and dusk

* Wear long sleeves and pants, socks and shoes

* Use insecticides (e.g. permethrin)

* Use and reapply repellent (e.g. DEET, picaridin or lemon eucalyptus oil)

* Use mosquito nets for children and mosquito coils

* Empty and reduce all water containers around your home.

Australian Associated Press

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