Experts say Japanese encephalitis will impact pork supply as infected piggeries experience production losses of up to 80 percent. There are now 30 New South Wales piggeries affected by the mosquito-borne virus and 11 people have been infected, with three deaths nationwide according to a new report.
Japanese encephalitis is endemic in other parts of the world, but it has never been seen this far south in Australia. NSW Department of Primary Industries chief veterinary officer Sarah Britton said it had been a stressful time for pig producers. “They have had huge impacts on production — up to 60 to 80 percent of production impacted in some sites,” she said.
“It’s also the mental health impact on the people because there’s been a lot of stillborn or abortions or abnormalities in piglets … which can be very stressful seeing … day in, day out.”
Within pig herds, abortions, stillbirths, and infertility in adults are all consequences of JEV, while swelling on the brain remains the most prominent among horses. To date, there have been no official reports of the disease in horses. Australian Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Mark Schipp says while the government is working toward vanquishing the danger, producers will need to continue to put precaution methods into practice.
The Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment, in conjunction with key industry heads, continues to provide producers with updated information regarding Japanese encephalitis. Those working with pigs, including those who may have a small herd or pet, have been advised to take steps that control mosquitoes, whilst continuing to implement effective biosecurity measures.