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Published on 28 December 2022

Onkaparinga immunisation team delivers JEV vaccine in Goolwa

Immunisation against Japanese encephalitis is now available in Goolwa through a program delivered by the City of Onkaparinga’s immunisation team.

Surging floodwaters along the Murray River have expanded breeding grounds for Culex mosquitoes, which are carriers of the brain disease.

Goolwa has been identified as a priority area at risk. SA Health has urged residents, shack owners and workers visiting the area to book their free vaccination through the state government-funded program.

The Onkaparinga immunisation team has scheduled additional immunisation clinics at the Alexandrina Council offices in Goolwa to meet the demand for vaccinations.

Residents are also urged to protect themselves from mosquito bites by wearing long, loose-fitting clothing, using insect repellent, and reducing mosquito breeding grounds around their homes such as puddles and containers of water.

Japanese encephalitis is a rare but serious viral disease.

While most people do not experience any illness or only mild symptoms such as fever and headache, a small number of people will develop brain swelling (encephalitis) beginning with symptoms such as tiredness, fever and headache, nausea and diarrhoea.

More serious symptoms include confusion, unusual behaviour, sleepiness, seizures, weakness, abnormal movements, permanent damage to the nervous system or death.

Diagnosis is usually made by a blood test or a spinal fluid sample. More serious illness may require hospital treatment.

An 80-year-old Riverland man contracted the Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) in late December.

This brings the total number of South Australian cases to 10. Nine people were previously infected in February 2022 when the disease was first discovered in the state.

JEV has also been detected in mosquitoes and animals in the Coorong, Murray Bridge, Loxton Waikerie, Goyder, Clare and Gilbert Valleys, and Light local government areas.

River Murray flood waters have further increased the risk of the disease spreading. Residents are encouraged to protect themselves from the Japanese encephalitis as peak flows reach the Alexandrina Council in late December and continue through to February 2023.

The Japanese encephalitis vaccination program is in addition to normal immunisation services provided by Onkaparinga on behalf of the Alexandrina Council at community clinics in Goolwa and Strathalbyn and at four local schools. Onkaparinga delivers similar immunisation services on behalf of the City of Marion and the City of Victor Harbor.

Onkaparinga’s immunisation team has also administered Japanese encephalitis vaccinations to staff from the Adelaide Hills Council who are assisting with floodwater efforts in the Riverland.

Bookings for Japanese encephalitis vaccinations can be made online.

For information on Onkaparinga’s full list of immunisation programs go to the council’s immunisation clinics website.

Further information about Japanese encephalitis and immunisation eligibility can be found on the SA Health Japanese encephalitis  and JEV vaccine websites.