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: 28 May 2020

Fortnight 09: 25 April to 08 May 2020

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Infectious and congenital Syphilis

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, continued increases among men who have sex with men (MSM) in urban areas of Victoria (Vic) and New South Wales (NSW), and increases in non-Indigenous women residing in urban areas of Vic, NSW, Queensland (Qld) and Western Australia (WA).

Outbreak in remote Australia

In January 2011, an increase of infectious syphilis notifications among young (15-29 years) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was identified in the North West region of 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, 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 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 Vic and NSW.

Increases among non-Indigenous women

Since 2016, increases in notifications of infectious syphilis have been reported in non-Indigenous women aged predominately 20-39 years of age residing in urban areas of NSW, Vic, Qld and WA. As noted in the outbreak in remote Australia, increases in women of child-bearing age is of significant public health concern given the increased risk of congenital syphilis.

Influenza

In 2020 up to 8 May, there have been 20,850 laboratory confirmed influenza cases reported to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS). In the reporting period between 25 April and 8 May 2020 there have been 156 confirmed influenza cases. This is lower than the 5 year mean for this period (n=2,595), for the same period in 2019 (n= 9,368) and is the lowest number of notifications for this period since 2013 (n=258).

Elements of the COVID-19 response, including social distancing measures and the diversion of testing resources to COVID-19 diagnosis, are affecting the number of laboratory-confirmed influenza cases notified to the NNDSS. These effects may differ by jurisdiction.

Legionellosis

This reporting period there were 20 notifications of legionellosis reported to the NNDSS. The cases were notified by NSW (8), Qld (3), SA (2), Tas (2), Vic (3) and WA (2). These cases ranged in age from 36 to 85 years and 40% (8 cases) were female. All but two (2) of the cases were reported with species identification, 50% (10 cases) were Legionella longbeachae and 40% (8 cases) were L. pneumophila. Sixteen (16) cases (80%) had place of acquisition reported. Of these cases 14 were reported to be acquired in Australia, one (1) was acquired in Indonesia and the remaining case was acquired overseas with no country information provided.

Tularaemia

During the reporting period one (1) case of Tularaemia was reported to the NNDSS from NSW. Tularaemia is a rare disease caused by the bacteria Francisella tularensis. Infections usually occur through handling of infected animals, bites of an infected ticks, consumption of contaminated food, or contact with contaminated water. Most infections are reported from the Northern Hemisphere. Including the case reported in NSW, to date there have been three (3) locally acquired cases of Tularaemia in Australia. Two (2) of these cases were acquired through bites/scratches from infected ringtail possums in Tasmania in 2011.1

  1. Tasmanian Department of Health

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 25/04/2020 to 08/05/2020.
  2. The quarterly (90 day) five year rolling mean is the average of 5 intervals of 90 days up to 08/05/2020. 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 09/05/2020 to 08/05/2020.
  4. The yearly (365 day) five year rolling mean is the average of 5 intervals of 365 days up to 08/05/2020. 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