Diseases of concern in Australia
Some communicable diseases are of concern because of their potential to spread and cause serious illness. We issue health alerts to warn about disease outbreaks of concern within Australia.
Most people will have several communicable diseases in their lifetime, such as the common cold or a stomach bug. These are usually mild and only last for a few days.
However, some diseases can cause serious illness or death. So it’s important that we take steps to prevent, monitor and respond to communicable diseases.
We need to monitor some diseases. This is called communicable disease surveillance.
We report on those diseases via various channels, including the Communicable Diseases Intelligence journal.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare publishes a communicable diseases snapshot.
See more about reporting nationally notifiable diseases.
National and state laws
There are both national and state laws about communicable diseases.
The federal Biosecurity Act 2015 is about managing diseases and pests that may cause harm to human, animal or plant health or the environment. Some diseases are classified as listed human diseases under the Biosecurity Act.
The National Health Security Act 2007 underpins our disease surveillance and reporting activities, and the National Notifiable Disease List.
States and territories also have their own laws.
The National Framework for Communicable Disease Control outlines an approach to this issue for both federal and state/territory governments. It is one of our strategies and frameworks addressing communicable diseases.
By law, healthcare professionals must report certain diseases to state or territory authorities.
States and territories have also agreed to report some diseases to a national body, through the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS) or other entities. For example, they report cases of:
- human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to the Kirby Institute
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD or mad cow disease) to the Australian National Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Registry.
Learn more about nationally notifiable diseases.