People in NSW worried about mosquito-borne Japanese encephalitis should feel reassured that accurate tests are available to detect the virus, a specialist says.
"Tests are readily available in laboratories around Australia, very accurate tests, to be able to detect Japanese encephalitis," Dean Whiting, CEO of Pathology Technology Australia, the peak body representing manufacturers of diagnostic technology, told AAP.
Those concerned about a recent mosquito bite or reports of the virus in their area "should really have no hesitation in getting their GP to send the test off to the lab", Mr Whiting, who is a clinical biochemist, said.
A man in his 50s on Friday became the eighth NSW resident diagnosed with Japanese encephalitis.
The man, from the Temora area in the NSW Riverina region, was treated in hospital before being discharged, and will continue to recover in the community, NSW Health said.
A woman in her 40s from the Berrigan area, also in the Riverina region, on Wednesday became the seventh person to be diagnosed with the virus.
Japanese encephalitis is caused by mosquito bites and cannot be spread from human to human.
Despite cases being recorded in pigs, the disease cannot be caught by eating pork or pork products.
There are no specific treatments for JE, which can cause severe neurological illness with headaches, convulsions and reduced consciousness in some cases.
The best thing people can do to protect themselves and their families against JE is to take steps to avoid mosquito bites.
"If you do end up encountering a serious case of Japanese encephalitis, it's better to know you have it early on so that any acute episodes can be managed and treated effectively," Mr Whiting said.
JE can be tested for in a number of ways, including PCR tests conducted via blood or, in serious cases, cerebrospinal fluid.
"When you get an infection like this, your body produces antibodies," he said.
"If you are concerned that you may have had Japanese encephalitis (previously), a quick blood test will actually tell you if you've got any antibodies on board."
The way cases of JE are announced by NSW Health will change from Friday as the situation in the state evolves.
NSW Health will finalise new cases and locations at 4pm daily and report them the following day on the NSW Health website, similar to the way COVID-19 cases are published.
NSW Health recommends:
* Avoid the outdoors, bushland and wetlands at peak mosquito times - dawn and dusk
* Wear long sleeves and pants, socks and shoes
* Use insecticides (e.g. permethrin)
* Use and reapply repellent (e.g. DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus)
* Use mosquito nets for children, and mosquito coils
* Empty and reduce all water-holding containers around your house.
Australian Associated Press
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