Fight the Bite - SA Pathology's Contribution to the Battle

10 March 2022

Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain tissue, most commonly caused by viral infections. We currently have nine identified cases in South Australia (as at 02/03/2022).

All cases have occurred within the last month, and all patients had recently visited the Murray River in the preceding 2-3 weeks.

The association with the Murray River has alerted health authorities due to its potential acquisition from mosquito bites, meaning that the viral infection may be a flavivirus.

Dr. Chuan Lim and his team at SA Pathology are joining the national effort, assisting with the coordination of samples, and investigating whether the cases link to the Japanese Encephalitis Virus or another flavivirus.

One case so far has been identified as Japanese Encephalitis Virus – the first locally acquired human case in South Australia.

“From the laboratory point of view, we have a bio-threat scientist who is regularly monitoring for emerging pathogens and is currently developing Japanese Encephalitis Virus PCR assays so they can be used to help diagnose this disease quickly.

We also collaborate with interstate laboratories for serology testing as well as PCR testing. We’re also exploring metagenomics sequencing to see if there are any novel viruses in those patients.”

Find out more about SA Health's Fight the Bite campaign.

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