Be on alert over mozzie virus

Authorities are alerting pig and horse owners to be vigilant for Japanese encephalitis virus.

The warning comes after three people died from the virus, which is spread by mosquitoes and can infect people and animals.

To date there have been no official reports of the disease in horses, but the threat remains while mosquito numbers are high due to recent rain and flooding.

Australian Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Mark Schipp said governments and industry were working together to contain the virus.

“The best course of action is to try and avoid mosquito bites to yourself and your animals,” Dr Schipp said.

“And part of that means reducing mosquito infestations. We have developed a guide on how to control mosquitoes around piggeries and we are currently developing a similar guide that can be used for horses.

“The key things to help prevent mosquito bites on horses is to put a hooded rug on them, a fly mask and apply an insect repellent. Stabling horses overnight can also help.”

The disease causes brain swelling in horses. In pigs it results in production losses including abortions and stillbirths, and infertility in adult pigs.