Fortnight 03: 01 February to 14 February 2021
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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.
Barmah Forest virus
Between 1 and 14 February 2021, there were 21 notifications of Barmah Forest virus (BFV) infection, compared with 14 during the previous period and 20 during the same period last year. During the past quarter there were 4,946 notifications, 1.5 times the quarterly rolling mean of 3,360 notifications (Figure 1).
Seasonal increases in notifications for BFV are expected during the warmer months, and nationally peak between January and June. The timing of the increase varies for different geographical regions.
Figure 1: Notifications of Barmah Forest virus, Australia, 1 January 2016 to 14 February 2021, by state or territory and month and year of diagnosis (notification received date)
In the past 12 months (15 February 2020 to 14 February 2021), there have been 112 cases of leptospirosis reported to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS). This is slightly lower than the mean number of cases reported for the historical five-year mean (n=116). In the past fortnight (1 February 2021 to 14 February 2021), 13 cases of leptospirosis were notified compared to five cases in the same reporting period in the previous year. In the past quarter (17 November 2020 – 14 February 2021), 43 cases of leptospirosis were notified compared to the quarterly rolling five year mean of 23.6 notifications. Increased mouse and rat populations following recent wet weather in eastern Australian may be a contributing factor leading to increased case notifications.
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.
- The past quarter (90 day) surveillance period includes the date range 01/02/2020 to 14/02/2021.
- The quarterly (90 day) five year rolling mean is the average of 5 intervals of 90 days up to 14/02/2020. The ratio is the notification activity in the past quarter (90 days) compared with the five year rolling mean for the same period.
- The past year (365 day) surveillance period includes the date range 01/02/2021 to 14/02/2021.
- The yearly (365 day) five year rolling mean is the average of 5 intervals of 365 days up to 14/02/2020. 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.top of page
Table of communicable disease notifications reported to the NNDSS for this fortnight
- Table of communicable disease notifications reported to the NNDSS for this fortnight - PDF
- Table of communicable disease notifications reported to the NNDSS for this fortnight - Excel