Deadly Mosquitoes: Japanese Encephalitis Affecting More People

The presence of deadly mosquitoes in Australia has brought about Japanese encephalitis. This is a mosquito-borne disease that has resulted in death. South Australia has now eight active cases of the disease. Two cases are still under investigation.

The Disease

Japanese encephalitis is a disease transmitted by deadly mosquitoes to people. Encephalitis can cause lasting neurological damage. It can even be fatal. Common symptoms are neck stiffness, confusion, drowsiness, headaches, tremors, and seizures. Those at higher risk of developing Japanese encephalitis are young children.

Japanese encephalitis from deadly mosquitoes
Japanese encephalitis from deadly mosquitoes

Wading birds and pigs are the primary sources of food for female Culex mosquitoes. Pigs are the easiest source of infection in humans. Deadly mosquitoes can bite humans. Eating infected pork can also cause Japanese encephalitis in humans.

The Outbreak

This is a surprise outbreak by deadly mosquitoes. Japanese encephalitis was not on Australia’s radar before. Culex species have bitten infected waterbirds and pigs. Then, the mosquito bit humans as another food source.

Local mosquitoes bit the birds that traveled by the waterways. The warm and wet weather causes the population of deadly mosquitoes to explode. Infected mosquitoes pass the virus to the animals near a human population. Japanese encephalitis cannot transmit from one person to another.

Encephalitis can be deadly
Encephalitis can be deadly

The virus has been detected in about five people in Australia’s Torred Strait Islands, which is north of the mainland. This is the first outbreak in mainland Australia. Children have the highest risk of contracting the virus.  Most patients do not develop symptoms. If they do, they experience only weak, flu-like pains. Japanese encephalitis will spread to the brain in one out of 250 cases. One in three cases that develop severe symptoms dies as a result of the infection.

There is no cure to the virus spread by deadly mosquitoes. Oxygen and fluids can support the patient’s body while fighting off the virus. Vaccinations can prevent the infection. Australia’s vaccine stockpile is not enough. The next doses will come this month. High-risk groups will receive the vaccines first. These are veterinarians and piggery workers.

Deadly mosquitoes can give you Japanese encephalitis
Deadly mosquitoes can give you Japanese encephalitis

Wearing long-sleeved clothing and putting on repellents can help keep mosquitoes at bay. Cleaning the backyard and removing stagnant water can help destroy the breeding areas. Scientists say that Japanese encephalitis will not go away anymore. Cases will only increase as global warming worsens.


Many infections cause encephalitis. The features of the ailment depend on the cause. Sometimes the features overlap. Doctors often need many samples repeatedly to come up with a correct diagnosis.

Japanese encephalitis needs a PCR test. This is from cerebrospinal fluid and blood samples from the patient. The doctor will take the sample cerebrospinal fluid from the lower back. Testing for antibodies in the patient’s cerebrospinal fluid and blood can determine the presence of the virus.

The lab will test the cerebrospinal fluid or serum for checking the IgM antibodies. Japanese encephalitis IgM is often detectable three to eight days after the start of the illness and goes on for 30-90 days. Positive IgM antibodies may sometimes show a past vaccination or infection. The serum collected 10 days after onset may not show detectable IgM.

What to Do if You Are Exposed

Seeing a doctor and getting tested for the virus is necessary
Seeing a doctor and getting tested for the virus is necessary

The main risk of the outbreak in Australia is if it reaches a large population. As of now, there is still a small number of cases spotted in the country. See a doctor if you think you are exposed or if you were exposed to the deadly mosquitoes and Japanese encephalitis virus. More severe symptoms will need more urgent assessments.

Protection and Prevention

Deadly mosquitoes like Culex can easily overwhelm a specific area. Maintaining a clean environment, unclogging gutters, and removing stagnant water can help eliminate the breeding areas. Protecting yourself with mosquito repellents and long-sleeved clothing can keep the biting deadly mosquitoes from you.