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Tuesday, December 06, 2022

NSW man dies after lengthy battle with Japanese encephalitis

A Corowa man in his 60s has died following a lengthy battle with the rare mosquito-borne virus Japanese encephalitis.

David Kiefel, who contracted the virus on the New South Wales-Victorian border in mid-February, died at Albury Base Hospital on May 20, it has been confirmed.

Mr Kiefel is the fifth person to die from JEV in Australia.

Fighting a “very severe form of the virus”, Mr Kiefel was placed on life support after his condition deteriorated following his infection.

His wife Jacquelene Monk has spent almost every day by her husband’s bedside.

She has been urging others to be aware of the early signs of the virus, which took doctors weeks to diagnose in her husband.

Man And Woman Standing And Smiling.
David Kiefel and his wife Jacquelene Monk, who supported him throughout his Japanese encephalitis battle.,Supplied,

Tributes flow for Mr Kiefel

Tributes are pouring in for Mr Kiefel, including from Corowa Rutherglen Football Netball Club, where he was the former treasurer.

The Corowa Community Garden also posted a tribute to Mr Kiefel.

“David was a founding member of the garden,” it read.

A Couple Embrace As They Smile At The Camera And Holders
Jacquelene Monk and David Kiefel in happier times before the virus struck. ,Supplied: Jacquelene Monk,

NSW Health encourages vigilance

As at May 18, there were 42 human cases of Japanese encephalitis in Australia.

Mr Kiefel’s death is the second from the virus in NSW; there has also been one death in Queensland, one in South Australia and one in Victoria.

The Australian health department declared the virus a communicable disease incident of national significance on March 4.

A Mosquito Sucks Blood
NSW Health is urging locals to continue avoiding mosquito bites.,Flickr: Gilles San Martin,

While the virus can infect both animals and humans, it cannot be transmitted between humans, or caught by eating pork or other pig products.

Those considered at higher risk include workers in piggeries and animal transport, and vets.

The virus is normally detected across the Northern Territory, Queensland and the Torres Strait, but recent wet conditions have seen it spread into southern areas of the country.

While NSW Health said there was evidence mosquito numbers had declined, it urged people throughout the state to continue taking steps to avoid mosquito bites.

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