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Japanese Encephalitis Virus in Australia: From Known Known to Known Unknown

Public Health Virology, Forensic and Scientific Services, Department of Health, Queensland Government, PO Box 594, Archerfield, QLD 4108, Australia
Faculty of Medical Sciences, Curtin University, and Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, PathWest, Locked Bag2009, Nedlands, WA 6909, Australia
College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences, and Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University, PO Box 6811, Cairns, QLD 4870, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Trop. Med. Infect. Dis. 2019, 4(1), 38;
Received: 23 January 2019 / Revised: 18 February 2019 / Accepted: 19 February 2019 / Published: 20 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue One Health and Zoonoses)
PDF [651 KB, uploaded 27 February 2019]


Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is a major cause of neurological disease in Asia. It is a zoonotic flavivirus transmitted between water birds and/or pigs by Culex mosquitoes; humans are dead-end hosts. In 1995, JEV emerged for the first time in northern Australia causing an unprecedented outbreak in the Torres Strait. In this article, we revisit the history of JEV in Australia and describe investigations of JEV transmission cycles in the Australian context. Public health responses to the incipient outbreak included vaccination and sentinel pig surveillance programs. Virus isolation and vector competence experiments incriminated Culex annulirostris as the likely regional vector. The role this species plays in transmission cycles depends on the availability of domestic pigs as a blood source. Experimental evidence suggests that native animals are relatively poor amplifying hosts of JEV. The persistence and predominantly annual virus activity between 1995 and 2005 suggested that JEV had become endemic in the Torres Strait. However, active surveillance was discontinued at the end of 2005, so the status of JEV in northern Australia is unknown. Novel mosquito-based surveillance systems provide a means to investigate whether JEV still occurs in the Torres Strait or is no longer a risk to Australia. View Full-Text
Keywords: Japanese encephalitis virus; zoonosis; mosquito; transmission; Australia Japanese encephalitis virus; zoonosis; mosquito; transmission; Australia

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van den Hurk, A.F.; Pyke, A.T.; Mackenzie, J.S.; Hall-Mendelin, S.; Ritchie, S.A. Japanese Encephalitis Virus in Australia: From Known Known to Known Unknown. Trop. Med. Infect. Dis. 2019, 4, 38.

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