A NSW man became the fifth Australian to die from the mosquito-borne virus after leaving him nearly paralyzed in a tragic three-month struggle.
Corowa man David Kiefel became the fifth person in Australia to die from Japanese encephalitis (JE).
The 61-year-old died at Albury Base Hospital on May 20 after being diagnosed with the virus in early March, NSW Health confirmed.
According to social media posts by his wife Jacquelene Monk, the retired banker and auditor contracted a severe form of the virus and underwent life support in March. He later regained consciousness but was paralyzed and able to communicate only through facial expressions, spoken words and the help of a lip-reading interpreter.
Mr. Kiefel may have been linked to the outbreak of JE, which it was confirmed to 14 pigs in NSW, South Australia, Queensland and Victoria.
During her husband’s illness, Ms. Monk – who claimed to visit the hospital six days a week – often warned the community to protect herself and her families from mosquito bites.
“We now know that local mosquitoes are carriers of Japanese encephalitis. Don’t risk serious illness and the long-term effects it can produce, “she wrote in a March 4 post.
David Kiefel remembered by the Corowa community
Since Mr. Kiefel’s death, local businesses have paid tribute to the “kind” and active member of the community.
Corowa Community Garden said the NSW man was an avid gardener, writing, “The Corowa Community Garden group celebrates the life of our dear friend David Kiefel.
“David was a founding member of the garden. He has generously shared his vast knowledge of gardening and we will miss him very much for his kindness and friendship.
“Our sincere condolences to Jacqui and all the family”.
Corowa-Rutherglen Football Netball Club members also said they were “deeply saddened” by the death of their former treasurer and longtime member.
“[David was] a longtime fan of our club who served two terms as treasurer. Condolences to Jacqui and the Kiefel family, “they wrote.
What is Japanese encephalitis (JE)?
Spread by mosquitoesJE can cause severe neurological disease with headaches, seizures and reduced consciousness in some cases. NSW Health says people who work in environments that expose them to mosquitoes or pigs may be more at risk, such as pig pen workers, animal transport, veterinary clinics, laboratory workers or people who practice trapping of animals and mosquitoes for surveillance.
Although a vaccine is available, there is no specific treatment for the virus. Therefore, the health organization stressed the importance of prevention, and stated that it is “important to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes”.
It also recommends using mosquito nets, mosquito nets, insect repellants, wearing long sleeves and pants to reduce skin exposure, and reducing water containers to prevent breeding.
It is also advisable to avoid going outdoors during mosquito rush hours, such as sunrise and sunset, especially in wetlands and woods.
As of May 23, there have been 13 confirmed cases of the virus, including eight in the local health district of Murrumbidgee (which includes Corowa), two in the Far West LHD and one in Southern NSW, Western NSW and Nepean Blue Mountains LHD.
Originally published as Corowa man David Kiefel dies of Japanese encephalitis after nearly three months of battle