National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System - current CDNA fortnightly report

The Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) holds fortnightly teleconferences to share and evaluate the latest information and developments in communicable diseases surveillance. This report provides a fortnightly summary on diseases of current interest and notifications of Australia's nationally notifiable diseases.

Page last updated: 15 February 2019

Fortnight 02: 19 January to 01 February 2019

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Influenza (laboratory confirmed)

Since November 2018, national notifications of laboratory confirmed influenza were higher than usual. In the past quarter (4 November 2018 to 1 February 2019), there were 17,696 cases of laboratory confirmed influenza reported to National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System, which is 2.9 times the quarterly rolling five year mean (n= 6,000).

The Top End of the Northern Territory has experienced a severe influenza season from the beginning of November 2018 until mid-January 2019. Between 5 November and 23 January there were 1,087 cases, with the highest rates among children aged under 10 years and Indigenous adults. Of the laboratory-confirmed cases which could be subtyped, nearly all were influenza A (H1N1)pdm09. Influenza activity in the Top End over this period was reported as being very intense with over 200 cases being notified in a week; the largest number of cases in a week since the 2009 pandemic. Additionally, there were 423 cases hospitalised and 6 deaths.

The Department of Health closely monitors national influenza activity throughout the year, including during the inter-seasonal period. A detailed summary of the 2018 Australian influenza season is available on the Department’s website.

Syphilis (infectious)

Increases in infectious syphilis notifications are attributed to an on-going outbreak occurring in young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people residing in northern and central Australia and continued increases among men who have sex with men (MSM) in some urban areas throughout Australia.

Outbreak in remote Australia

In January 2011, an increase of infectious syphilis notifications among young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was identified in the North West region of Queensland (QLD), following a steady decline at a national level in remote communities. Subsequent increases in infectious syphilis notifications were reported in the Northern Territory (NT) in 2013, Western Australia (WA) in 2014 and South Australia (SA) in 2016, following sustained periods of low notification rates. The outbreak is of significant public health concern given the: elevated rates of infectious syphilis among women of child-bearing age, increasing the risk and the rate of congenital syphilis; and the concomitant risk of HIV transmission.

For the latest information on the infectious syphilis outbreak, refer to the Department’s website.

Increases among MSM

Since 2010, increases in notifications of infectious syphilis have been reported in MSM, predominately 20-39 years of age, residing in urban areas of Victoria (VIC), Qld and NSW. Since 2015, increases have been reported in MSM in urban areas in South Australia.


Interpretative Notes

Selected diseases are chosen each fortnight based on either exceeding two standard deviations from the 90 day and/or 365 day five year rolling mean or other disease issues of significance identified during the reporting period. All diseases reported are analysed by notification receive date. Data are extracted each Monday of a CDNA week.

Totals comprise data from all States and Territories. Cumulative figures are subject to retrospective revision so there may be discrepancies between the number of new notifications and the increment in the cumulative figure from the previous period.

  1. The past quarter (90 day) surveillance period includes the date range 21/10/2018 to 18/01/2019.
  2. The quarterly (90 day) five year rolling mean is the average of 5 intervals of 90 days up to 18/01/2019. The ratio is the notification activity in the past quarter (90 days) compared with the five year rolling mean for the same period.
  3. The past year (365 day) surveillance period includes the date range 19/01/2018 to 18/01/2019.
  4. The yearly (365 day) five year rolling mean is the average of 5 intervals of 365 days up to 18/01/2019. The ratio is the notification activity in the past year (365 days) compared with the five year rolling mean for the same period.

The five year rolling mean and the ratio of notifications compared with the five year rolling mean should be interpreted with caution. Changes in surveillance practice, diagnostic techniques and reporting may contribute to increases or decreases in the total notifications received over a five year period. Ratios are to be taken as a crude measure of current disease activity and may reflect changes in reporting rather than changes in disease activity.

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Table of communicable disease notifications reported to the NNDSS for this fortnight