Melbourne man contracts rare and potentially fatal Japanese encephalitis virus in Bali

Mark Schroeder with partner Anne-Marie Freeman and dog Lola. Picture: JAKE NOWAKOWSKI 

Mark Schroeder from Melbourne, has contracted the potentially fatal virus Japanese encephalitis during his stay in Bali. He spent a week in rural Bali and returned back to Melbourne on 2nd January.

Upon arriving home, he developed flu-like symptoms which worsened over the following days. He was diagnosed of Japanese encephalitis at Monash Medical Centre, where he spent 7 weeks at. During his hospitalization, he suffered from memory loss and had delusions that he was being abandoned and lost in Indonesia or India. There was also a period of time where he required a poster to remind him of his identity, location as well as what day it was.

“He’s not necessarily likely to make a full recovery, given that it has been at least six weeks and he is still significantly affected,” Southern Health’s Dr Ian Woolley said. “He will, at best, need a long period of recovery.”

Australia has only nine cases ever reported, with this being the first case reported in Victoria.

Dr Lester mentioned that although Japanese encephalitis is serious, the virus cannot be transmitted from person to person. Although mosquitoes that carries this virus exist in Victoria, there was minimal risk that the virus would spread because the virus has to multiply in pigs and Victoria has little pig farms.

Australia’s first ever outbreak of Japanese encephalitis occurred in the remote outer islands of the Torres Strait in 1995, with three cases – two of them was fatal.

Hence, it is very important to be vaccinated against Japanese encephalitis when visiting countries that has Japanese encephalitis cases. Protect yourself from getting bitten by mosquitoes by wearing long sleeves and insect repellent. Remember friends, there is no cure for Japanese encephalitis, you can only prevent.

Date: 2015, March 3

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