A study being conducted by the Victorian Department of Health, Goulburn Valley Public Health Unit and the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance. The study is funded by the Victorian Department of Health.

What is this study about?

This study is about Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV), which has recently been detected in humans, pigs, and mosquitoes in Victoria. This is the first time JEV has been detected in Victoria and other parts of South-eastern Australia.

JEV is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. JEV can cause Japanese encephalitis (JE), a rare but potentially serious infection of the brain. Most people who get infected with JEV only have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. Therefore, you may have been infected and recovered from JEV without knowing it.

The aim of this work is to understand what proportion of people from regional communities in Northern Victoria have been infected with JEV. You are being asked to participate because you may be at higher risk of having been exposed to JEV because of where you live or work.

More information about JEV is available online at:

https://www.health.vic.gov.au/infectious-diseases/information-for-the-public-japanese-encephalitis-in-victoria

Why is it important to understand JEV infection rates in the community?

This study will help us understand how widely JEV has spread in Victoria, how many people have been infected, and who is more likely to be infected. This will help us determine who should be prioritised for vaccination and other prevention activities.

Am I eligible to be included in the study?

This study aims to identify what proportion of people have been infected with JEV in northern Victoria.

Participants must not have been:

  1. Previously vaccinated for Japanese Encephalitis
  2. Previously diagnosed with Japanese Encephalitis
  3. Born in one of the following countries: Bangladesh, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, China, Guam, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Russia, Saipan, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor-Leste or Vietnam

JEV is common throughout Southeast Asia and China. If you were born in one of the listed countries, it is possible that you have already been exposed to JEV or may have been vaccinated during childhood and are therefore immune, so you are unfortunately not eligible to participate in this study.

Who can consent to participate?

Adults can choose to consent to participate in the study themselves. Children under 18 years of age must have parental/guardian consent. Participation is completely voluntary.

What is required of study participants?

We will take a teaspoon of blood from you or your family member and test it to see if you have been previously infected with the virus. If you are already getting blood taken for another reason this will not require an extra needle.

We will also ask you to complete a questionnaire. The questionnaire will take you about 15 minutes to complete. This will include personal information and contact information so we can process your test and provide you with the results. You will also be asked to provide information on things like travel and vaccination history, your occupation, and exposure to animals. This information will be stored in a secure database, only accessible to the study investigators.

You can choose to leave the study at any time by contacting the study team using the details listed below. If you leave the study, your questionnaire data will be deleted and if you choose, your blood sample can be destroyed 30 days after the sample was taken.

What are the risks involved?

There are no major risks associated with the blood test. You may feel a sting when the needle is put in your arm to take the blood, and there may be some bruising, swelling or bleeding at the site. Some people can feel a little light-headed when blood is taken.

What will happen with the results?

If you test negative, we will email the result to you. If you test positive, your Local Public Health Unit will phone you to notify you of your results. You may also be asked to clarify some of the answers from your questionnaire, such as your past travel history and leisure and work activities.

The results may take some time to process, so please be patient. All participants will be notified of their results by the Department of Health, and will be provided with an information sheet explaining what the results mean.

The results of the study will be pooled and published together. No individual results will be published. We will provide you with a summary of the study results once they are available. The study findings will also be published in both investigator theses and journals.

If you would like to participate in this study, you can attend the following Dorevitch Pathology Collection Centres located at:

30 William Street, Cobram

Open times: Monday – Thursday 8:30am – 3:00pm

72 Woods Road, Yarrawonga

Open times: Thursday & Friday 8am – 2pm 

No pre-arrangement is required.

If you have any questions about this study, please do not hesitate to contact Goulburn Valley Public Health Unit, E: PHU@gvhealth.org.au, Ph: 1800 313 070

This project has been approved by the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network Human Research Ethics Committee. If you have any concerns about the conduct of this study, please contact the Executive Officer of the Ethics Committee on 02 9845 1253 or by emailing SCHN-ethics@health.nsw.gov.au


Japanese Encephalitis Vaccination

In Victoria, Japanese encephalitis vaccine is available free-of-charge for specific priority groups, including people who may be exposed to the virus where they work.

Who JE vaccine is recommended for?

The JE vaccine is available for free for the following priority groups who are recommended for vaccination.

  • People who work at, reside, or have a planned, non-deferable visit to:

– a piggery including farm workers and their families (including children aged 2 months and above) living at the piggery, transport workers, veterinarians and others involved in care of pigs

– property that has been confirmed to be infected with JE virus

– property suspected to be infected with JE virus

– a pork abattoir or pork rendering plant.

  • Personnel who work directly with mosquitoes through their surveillance (field or laboratory based) or control management, and indirectly through management of mosquito-borne disease surveillance systems (e.g. sentinel animals) such as:

– Environmental health officers and workers

– Entomologists

– Pest controllers.

  • Laboratory workers who may be exposed to JE virus

Priority groups for Japanese encephalitis vaccination have been expanded to include:

  • Residence or usual place of work in the following Local Government Areas: Mildura, Swan Hill, Gannawarra, Campaspe, Moira, Greater Shepparton, Indigo, Wodonga and who are:
    • Aged 50 – 65 years and
    • Employed in an occupation that is largely or totally outdoors (defined as spending at least 4 hours/day outdoors)

Japanese encephalitis vaccinations will be available at selected Jabba the Bus visits over the coming months. Check out the Jabba the Bus schedule COVID-19 Vaccination Bus | Goulburn Valley Health (gvhealth.org.au) to see if there are any stops in your area providing Japanese encephalitis vaccinations for priority groups.