Australia's notifiable diseases status, 2009: Annual report of the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System - Notes

The Australia’s notifiable diseases status, 2009 report provides data and an analysis of communicable disease incidence in Australia during 2009. The full report is available in 16 HTML documents. The full report is also available in PDF format from the Table of contents page.

Page last updated: 22 August 2011

This article was published in Communicable Diseases Intelligence Vol 35 Number 2, June 2011 and may be downloaded as a full version PDF file (1854 KB).

Notes on interpretation

The present report is based on 2009 ‘finalised’ data from each state or territory agreed upon in July 2010 and represents a snap shot of the year after duplicate records and incorrect or incomplete data were removed. Therefore, numbers in this report may vary slightly from the numbers reported in CDI quarterly publications.

Analyses in this report were based on the date of disease diagnosis in an attempt to estimate disease activity within the reporting period. The date of diagnosis is the onset date or where the date of onset was not known, the earliest of the specimen collection date, the notification date, or the notification receive date. As considerable time may have elapsed between the onset and diagnosis dates for hepatitis B (unspecified), hepatitis C (unspecified) and tuberculosis, the earliest of specimen date, health professional notification date or public health unit notification receive date was used for these conditions.

Notified cases often represent a proportion (the ‘notified fraction’) of the total incidence (Figure 1) and this has to be taken into account when interpreting NNDSS data. Moreover, the notified fraction varies by disease, by jurisdiction and by time.

Figure 1: Communicable diseases notifiable fraction

Figure 1:  Communicable diseases notifiable fraction

Methods of surveillance vary between states and territories, each having different requirements for notification by medical practitioners, laboratories and hospitals. Although the National Notifiable Diseases List2 was established, some diseases are not yet notifiable in all 8 jurisdictions (Table 2).

Top of page

Table 2: Diseases notified to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System, Australia, 2009

Data received from
Bloodborne diseases
Hepatitis (NEC) All jurisdictions, except Western Australia
Hepatitis B (newly acquired) All jurisdictions
Hepatitis B (unspecified) All jurisdictions
Hepatitis C (newly acquired) All jurisdictions, except Queensland
Hepatitis C (unspecified) All jurisdictions
Hepatitis D All jurisdictions
Gastrointestinal diseases
Botulism All jurisdictions
Campylobacteriosis All jurisdictions, except New South Wales
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 in humans 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 All jurisdictions
Donovanosis All jurisdictions
Gonococcal infection All jurisdictions
Syphilis < 2 years duration All jurisdictions
Syphilis > 2 years or unspecified duration All jurisdictions, except South Australia
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 NSW
Varicella zoster (shingles) All jurisdictions, except NSW
Varicella zoster (unspecified) All jurisdictions, except NSW
Vectorborne diseases
Arbovirus infection (NEC) All jurisdictions
Barmah Forest virus infection All jurisdictions
Dengue virus infection 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 disease (invasive) All jurisdictions
Tuberculosis All jurisdictions

No new diseases were added to the disease list in 2009.

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

NEC Not elsewhere classified.

Top of page

Changes in surveillance practices may have been introduced in some jurisdictions and not in others, and makes the comparison of data across jurisdictions difficult. In this report, some information was obtained from states and territories, including changes in surveillance practices, screening practices, laboratory practices, and major disease control or prevention initiatives to assist in the interpretation of the 2009 data.

Postcode information usually reflects the residential location of the case, but this does not necessarily represent the place where the disease was acquired. In December 2008, the CDNA endorsed the NNDSS cross-border notification protocol, which determines that the jurisdiction of residence of a case has the responsibility of reporting the notification to NNDSS. This was implemented from 1 January 2009, and may also affect some retrospective notifications by removing duplicates and preventing the loss of notification data in NNDSS.

Data completeness was assessed for the notification’s sex, age at onset, and Indigenous status, and reported as the proportion of complete notifications. The completenessof data in this report is summarised in the Results.

The per cent of data completeness was defined as:

Per cent of data completeness = (total notifications – missing or unknown) / total notifications x 100

The Indigenous status was defined by the following nationally accepted values:10

1=Indigenous – (Aboriginal but not Torres Strait Islander origin)

2=Indigenous – (Torres Strait Islander but not Aboriginal origin)

3=Indigenous – (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin)

4=Not Indigenous – (not Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin)

9=Not stated

Top of page

Notes on cases definitions

Each notifiable disease is governed by a national surveillance case definition for reporting to the NNDSS. These case definitions were agreed by CDNA and implemented nationally from January 2004 and were used by all jurisdictions for the first time in 2005. These case definitions are reviewed by the Case Definitions Working Group (CDWG) and seeks to be consistent with the Public Health Laboratory Network laboratory case definitions.

The national surveillance case definitions and their review status are available from

Communicable Diseases Intelligence subscriptions

Sign-up to email updates: Subscribe Now