Wildlife Heath Australia

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventWorkshop/course/forumGovernment


The Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and WHA are holding this national meeting to draw upon the expertise of waterbird/wetland bird experts to ensure surveillance and response activities relating to the current Japanese Encephalitis outbreak are well informed.
Scope & expected outputs:
Scope: National scale waterbird and wetland bird ecology rather than disease ecology.
- Build relationships between waterbird experts and biosecurity and health agencies from which future discussion could occur.
- Gather baseline information to inform potential future surveillance and response activities; no decisions to be made during the meeting on activities to be undertaken.
- Develop 4-8 dot points on current state of knowledge on waterbird populations and their movements.
- If there is time: capture knowledge gaps and potential research questions.
In February 2022, Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) was detected and confirmed in piggeries in Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales, and on 4 March, cases were detected in South Australia. On 4 March 2022, Australia’s Acting Chief Medical Officer declared the JEV situation a Communicable Disease Incident of National Significance. This is the first time the virus has been detected in southern Australia.

Japanese encephalitis is a viral zoonotic disease that is spread by mosquitoes. The virus can cause reproductive losses and encephalitis in pigs and horses. In rare cases, Japanese encephalitis can cause disease in people. The lifecycle of Japanese encephalitis is between waterbirds and mosquitoes, which may then spill over to pigs and horses. Animals and people become infected through the bite of infected mosquitoes. The movement of infected mosquitoes or waterbirds may have played a part in the virus’ spread.

Note: There is a level of uncertainty regarding the ecology of JEV in Australia, specifically the wildlife species involved in the virus lifecycle.

- Further information about the animal health situation on outbreak.gov.au including the virus lifecycle
- Find out more from about the human health situation, see the Department of Health.
- WHA Fact Sheet on Japanese Encephalitis - Further updates of the WHA Fact Sheet are planned in to provide more detail on what is known of the potential role of wildlife in the epidemiology of Japanese Encephalitis.
Period24 Mar 2022
Event typeOther
Degree of RecognitionNational