Communicable diseases surveillance

Find out how we monitor and report on nationally notifiable diseases.

When we are talking about communicable diseases, the word ‘surveillance’ means the systematic collection, analysis and interpretation of data about that disease.

Governments carry out communicable disease surveillance in Australia at national, state and local levels. National surveillance includes:

  • detecting outbreaks and identifying national trends through the Communicable Diseases Network Australia
  • guidance for policy and resources
  • monitoring the need for and effect of national disease control programs
  • coordinating a response to national or multi-state outbreaks
  • describing the epidemiology of rare diseases
  • providing data to the World Health Organization
  • supporting quarantine activities
  • reviewing the National Notifiable Disease List
  • sentinel surveillance programs (such as for influenza).

Sentinel surveillance

Sentinel surveillance involves a small group of health workers gathering data on a disease. It can also mean randomly testing in the community – including people who seem well – to see if a disease is present or increasing.

We run surveillance programs for some communicable diseases. This helps us, and the states and territories, identify and respond to outbreaks.

Australian Sentinel Practice Research Network

We work with the Australian Sentinel Practice Research Network (ASPREN) on sentinel surveillance.

ASPREN is a national network of general practitioners who report certain medical conditions each week. It aims to provide an indicator of diseases in the community, including pandemic influenza.

Other surveillance

We run other surveillance programs to monitor some communicable diseases.

Australian National Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Registry

The Australian National Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Registry (ANCJDR) monitors for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in Australia. CJD is listed as a notifiable disease in all Australian states and territories.

HIV surveillance

The Kirby Institute oversees HIV surveillance in Australia. This is in collaboration with us, state and territory health authorities, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and other networks.


OzFoodNet exists to investigate, describe and minimise foodborne disease in Australia. 

National Arbovirus and Malaria Advisory Committee

The National Arbovirus and Malaria Advisory Committee (NAMAC) provides advice on arboviruses and malaria. This is to help detect, manage and control outbreaks of these diseases. It is a subcommittee of the Communicable Diseases Network of Australia (CDNA). 

Australian Paediatric Surveillance Unit                                                                                                

The Australian Paediatric Surveillance Unit (APSU) finds and studies children under 15 with uncommon conditions. These include rare infectious and vaccine-preventable diseases. Also included are genetic disorders, child mental health problems, rare injuries and other rare chronic childhood conditions.


Learn about reporting nationally notifiable diseases.

Diseases of international concern

If a disease of international concern arises, the National Incident Centre (NIC) responds. When this happens, the NIC reports to the World Health Organization.

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