Australia's notifiable diseases status, 2006: Annual report of the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System - Introduction and Methods

The Australia’s notifiable diseases status, 2006 report provides data and an analysis of communicable disease incidence in Australia during 2006. The full report is available in 17 HTML documents. The full report is also available in PDF format from the Table of contents page.

Page last updated: 30 June 2008


Australia's notifiable diseases status 2006, is an annual surveillance report of nationally notifiable communicable diseases. Communicable disease surveillance in Australia operates at the national, state and local levels. Primary responsibility for public health action lies with the state and territory health departments. The role of communicable disease surveillance at a national level includes:

  • identifying national trends;
  • guidance for policy development and resource allocation at a national level;
  • monitoring the need for and impact of national disease control programs;
  • coordination of response to national or multi-jurisdictional outbreaks;
  • description of the epidemiology of rare diseases, that occur infrequently at state and territory levels;
  • meeting various international reporting requirements, such as providing disease statistics to the World Health Organization (WHO), and;
  • support for quarantine activities, which are the responsibility of the national government.


Australia is a federation of 6 states (New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia) and 2 territories (the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory). State and territory health departments collect notifications of communicable diseases under their public health legislation. In 2006, the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) did not have any legislated responsibility for public health apart from human quarantine. States and territories voluntarily forwarded data on a nationally agreed set of communicable diseases to DoHA for the purposes of national communicable disease surveillance.

Sixty-six communicable diseases (Table 1) agreed upon nationally through the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) were reported to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS). The system was complemented by other surveillance systems, which provided information on various diseases, including some that are not reported to NNDSS.

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Table 1. Diseases notified to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System, Australia, 2006

Data received from
Bloodborne diseases
Hepatitis (NEC) All jurisdictions
Hepatitis B (incident) All jurisdictions
Hepatitis B (unspecified)* All jurisdictions
Hepatitis C (incident) All jurisdictions, except Queensland
Hepatitis C (unspecified)*,† All jurisdictions
Hepatitis D All jurisdictions
Gastrointestinal diseases
Botulism All jurisdictions
Campylobacteriosis All jurisdictions, except NSW
Cryptosporidiosis All jurisdictions
Haemolytic uraemic syndrome All jurisdictions
Hepatitis A All jurisdictions
Hepatitis E All jurisdictions
Listeriosis All jurisdictions
Salmonellosis All jurisdictions
Shigellosis All jurisdictions
STEC, VTEC§ All jurisdictions
Typhoid All jurisdictions
Quarantinable diseases
Cholera All jurisdictions
Highly pathogenic avian influenza All jurisdictions
Plague All jurisdictions
Rabies All jurisdictions
Severe acute respiratory syndrome All jurisdictions
Smallpox All jurisdictions
Viral haemorrhagic fever All jurisdictions
Yellow fever All jurisdictions
Sexually transmissible infections
Chlamydial infections (NEC)|| All jurisdictions
Donovanosis All jurisdictions
Gonococcal infection All jurisdictions
Syphilis (all) All jurisdictions
Syphilis – <2 years duration All jurisdictions
Syphilis – >2 years or unspecified duration All jurisdictions
Syphilis – congenital All jurisdictions
Vaccine preventable diseases
Diphtheria All jurisdictions
Haemophilus influenzae type b All jurisdictions
Influenza (laboratory confirmed)** All jurisdictions
Measles All jurisdictions
Mumps All jurisdictions
Pertussis All jurisdictions
Pneumococcal disease (invasive) All jurisdictions
Poliomyelitis All jurisdictions
Rubella All jurisdictions
Rubella – congenital All jurisdictions
Tetanus All jurisdictions
Varicella zoster (chickenpox) All jurisdictions, except ACT, NSW and Victoria
Varicella zoster (shingles) All jurisdictions, except ACT, NSW and Victoria
Varicella zoster (unspecified) All jurisdictions, except ACT, NSW and Victoria
Vectorborne diseases
Barmah Forest virus infection All jurisdictions
Dengue virus infection All jurisdictions
Flavivirus infection (NEC)‡‡ All jurisdictions
Japanese encephalitis virus infection All jurisdictions
Kunjin virus infection§§ All jurisdictions
Malaria All jurisdictions
Murray Valley encephalitis virus infection All jurisdictions
Ross River virus infection All jurisdictions
Anthrax All jurisdictions
Australian bat lyssavirus All jurisdictions
Brucellosis All jurisdictions
Leptospirosis All jurisdictions
Lyssavirus (NEC) All jurisdictions
Ornithosis All jurisdictions
Q fever All jurisdictions
Tularaemia All jurisdictions
Other bacterial infections
Legionellosis All jurisdictions
Leprosy All jurisdictions
Meningococcal infection¶¶ All jurisdictions
Tuberculosis All jurisdictions

* Unspecified hepatitis includes cases in whom the duration of infection could not be determined.

† In Queensland, includes incident hepatitis cases.

‡ Notified as 'foodborne disease' or 'gastroenteritis in an institution' in New South Wales.

§ Infection with Shiga toxin/verotoxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC/VTEC).

|| Includes Chlamydia trachomatis identified from cervical, rectal, urine, urethral, throat and eye samples, except for South Australia, which reports only genital tract specimens; the Northern Territory, which excludes ocular specimens; and Western Australia, which excludes ocular and perinatal infections.

¶ Does not include congenital syphilis.

** Laboratory confirmed influenza is not a notifiable disease in South Australia but reports are forwarded to NNDSS.

‡‡ Flavivirus (NEC) replaced Arbovirus (NEC) from 1 January 2004.

§§ In the Australian Capital Territory, Murray Valley encephalitis virus infections and Kunjin virus infections are combined under Murray Valley encephalitis virus infections.

¶¶ Only invasive meningococcal disease is nationally notifiable. However, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia also report conjunctival cases.

NEC Not elsewhere classified

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The national dataset included fields for unique record reference number; notifying state or territory; disease code; age; sex; indigenous status; postcode of residence; date of onset of the disease; death, date of report to the state or territory health department and outbreak reference (to identify cases linked to an outbreak). Where relevant, information on the species, serogroups/subtypes and phage types of organisms isolated, and on the vaccination status of the case was collected. While not included in the national dataset, additional information concerning mortality and specific health risk factors for some diseases was obtained from states and territories.

Notification rates for each notifiable disease were calculated using 2006 mid-year resident population supplied by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (Appendixes 1 and 2). Where diseases were not notifiable in a state or territory, national rates were adjusted by excluding the population of that jurisdiction from the denominator. For some diseases, age adjusted rates were calculated using the indirect method of standardisation, with 2001 census data as the standard population.

The geographical distribution of selected diseases was mapped using ARCGIS software. Maps were based on the postcode of residence of each patient, aggregated to the appropriate Statistical Division (Map 1). Rates for the different Statistical Divisions were ordered into 6 groups — the highest value, the lowest value above zero, those equal to zero, and the intermediate values sorted into 3 equal-sized groups. The Statistical Divisions in the Australian Capital Territory were combined to calculate rates for the territory as a whole.

Map 1. Australian Bureau of Statistics Statistical Divisions and population, Australia, by Statistical Division, 2006

Map 1. Australian Bureau of Statistics Statistical Divisions and population, Australia, by Statistical Division, 2006 Top of page
Statistical Division
Statistical Division
Statistical Division
Australian Capital Territory
Queensland, continued
805 Canberra* 328,817 320 Darling Downs 226,430 205 Melbourne 3,684,461
New South Wales
325 South West 27,095 210 Barwon 273,997
105 Sydney 4,293,105 330 Fitzroy 193,182 215 Western District 102,141
110 Hunter 611,935 335 Central West 12,155 220 Central Highlands 150,412
115 Illawarra 415,248 340 Mackay 151,572 225 Wimmera 50,920
120 Richmond-Tweed 227,815 345 Northern 210,943 230 Mallee 93,415
125 Mid-North Coast 297,409 350 Far North 243,948 235 Loddon 178,091
130 Northern 181,078 355 North West 34,558 240 Goulburn 207,377
135 North Western 119,276
South Australia
245 Ovens-Murray 97,497
140 Central West 181,374 405 Adelaide 1,138,833 250 East Gippsland 84,222
145 South Eastern 204,854 410 Outer Adelaide 125,903 255 Gippsland 169,133
150 Murrumbidgee 155,281 415 Yorke and Lower North 45,190
Western Australia
155 Murray 116,870 420 Murray Lands 69,066 505 Perth 1,507,949
160 Far West 23,449 425 South East 63,580 510 South West 227,981
Northern Territory
430 Eyre 34,979 515 Lower Great Southern 55,259
705 Darwin 113,955 435 Northern 77,105 520 Upper Great Southern 17,609
710 NT – balance 92,733
525 Midlands 52,214
605 Greater Hobart 205,510 530 South Eastern 53,708
305 Brisbane 1,820,375 610 Southern 36,176 535 Central 60,167
310 Moreton 868,985 615 Northern 138,562 540 Pilbara 40,132
315 Wide Bay-Burnett 264,201 620 Mersey-Lyell 108,700 545 Kimberley 35,865
Other territories
2,691 Total Australia 20,605,488

* Includes Statistical Division 810 'Australian Capital Territory – balance'.

Information from communicable disease surveillance is disseminated through several avenues of communication. At the fortnightly teleconferences of the CDNA the most up-to-date information on topics of interest to the network is provided. The Communicable Diseases Intelligence (CDI) quarterly journal publishes surveillance data and reports of research studies on the epidemiology and control of various communicable diseases. Disease surveillance summaries from the NNDSS are published on the Communicable Diseases Surveillance section of DoHA's web site.

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