Communicable diseases

For more information, see Communicable diseases

See also: Vaccination and immunisation

Anthrax

Anthrax is an infection caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. It is a disease normally associated with grazing animals (sheep, goats, cattle and, to a lesser extent, swine).

For more information, please see the fact sheet below or contact the Communicable Disease Control Section on 02 6205 2155.

Anthrax Fact Sheet.pdf

Campylobacter

In Australia, Campylobacter is considered the most common cause of bacterial gastroenteritis and is frequently associated with the handling and consumption of contaminated chicken meat.

For more information, please see the fact sheet below or contact the Communicable Disease Control Section on 02 6205 2155.

For Health Consumers - Campylobacteriosis Fact Sheet

Chickenpox

Chickenpox is a highly contagious viral illness caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Most children experience a relatively mild illness, but in adults and immunosuppressed people chickenpox can be severe.

For more information, please see the fact sheet below or contact the Communicable Disease Control Section on 02 6205 2155.

Chickenpox Fact Sheet (June 2014)

Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmissible infection spread by having unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex (sex without a condom) with a person who is infected.

For more information, please see the fact sheet below or contact the Communicable Disease Control Section on 02 6205 2155.

Gonorrhoea Fact Sheet (June 2014) 

Head Lice

Head lice are small parasitic insects that live mainly on the scalp and neck of their human host.

Only humans get head lice and their presence does not indicate a lack of hygiene or sanitation.

Head Lice fact sheet (June 2014)

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. Hepatitis A occurs worldwide, but is more common in developing countries. Most people get hepatitis A directly from an infected person.

For more information, please see the fact sheet below or contact the Communicable Disease Control Section on 02 6205 2155.

Hepatitis A Fact Sheet (October 2014)

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a viral disease caused by the hepatitis B virus, which causes inflamation of the liver. The virus can be found in blood and body fluids of infected people.

For more information, please see the fact sheet below or contact the Communicable Disease Control Section on 02 6205 2155.

Hepatitis B Fact Sheet (June 2014)

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a viral disease that causes inflamation of the liver. Hepatitis C is spread through blood-to-blood contact i.e. when the blood of an infected person enters the bloodstream of another person.

For more information, please see the fact sheet below or contact the Communicable Disease Control Section on 02 6205 2155.

Hepatitis C Fact Sheet (July 2014)

Hepatitis E

Hepatitis E is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis E virus. Cases in Australia are most often associated with recent travel to endemic countries such as North Africa, the Middle East, and many parts of central and south-east Asia. Hepatitis E is spread via the faecal-oral route.

For more information, please see the fact sheet below or contact the Communicable Disease Control Section on 02 6205 2155.

Hepatitis E Fact Sheet (August 2014)

Influenza

Over 2,500 Australians die each year from complications caused by influenza. Less than half the people most at risk of developing life threatening complications from influenza are being vaccinated annually.

Influenza is not a cold. It is a highly contagious disease, so these immunisation rates must be increased to protect the most vulnerable members of our community. They include the elderly, those with suppressed immunity of any age and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Why Vaccinate?

Influenza is a highly contagious viral illness that can affect people of all ages. It is spread person to person by virus-containing respiratory droplets, produced during coughing or sneezing.

The influenza virus undergoes frequent changes in their surface antigen, which is the reason why the strain composition of influenza vaccine requires annual review. World Health Organisation issues recommendations for the annual influenza vaccine composition based on the circulating strains of influenza.

The attack rate of influenza may range from 5% - 30% of the population. It can be a debilitating disease causing fever, malaise, headache, myalgia, cough, nasal discharge and sneezing. Complications of influenza include bronchitis, otitis media, pneumonia, myocarditis, pericarditis or post-infection encephalitis. The disease can greatly affect a person’s quality of life. Work, study, sporting commitments, socialising, holidays and family life can all be affected if a person contracts the disease.

In healthy people aged less than 65 years the influenza vaccine is 70%-90% effective. The vaccines have an excellent safety record. They are largely free from systemic effects but may cause local tenderness or soreness at the injection site for 1-2 days.

To protect persons that have a high risk of influenza morbidity it is recommended that people that come in to contact with them receive the influenza vaccine annually. This includes health care workers, nursing home staff and household members of high risk groups.

It is also recommended that persons who provide essential community services should be immunised to minimise the disruption of essential activities during influenza outbreaks.

Influenza usually has a short incubation period of one to three days. Immunity from vaccination may take two weeks to develop and the vaccine may not be effective in preventing the disease if the person has already been exposed to the virus.

Who should get immunised?

The Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th Edition recommends annual seasonal influenza vaccination for the following people:

Vaccination is recommended and funded for the following groups:

  • Adults aged 65 years and over,
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over,
  • Adults and children (6 months of age and over) with underlying medical conditions; and
  • Pregnant women, at any stage of pregnancy.

Vaccination is recommended but not funded for the following groups;

  • People aged ≥ 6 months who live with a person who is at high risk of complications;
  • Residents of aged care facilities and other long term residential facilities;
  • Health-care providers, staff of aged care facilities and longer-term care facilities, and
  • Travellers — especially if travelling to areas of the world where influenza is currently circulating.

More information

For information on Tamiflu please read the Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) Fact sheet.

Additional information for bus drivers involved in an Influenza or Gastroenteritis outbreak can be found on the Bus driver Outbreak Information page.

Influenza (Flu) Information Sheet (May 2014)

Influenza (Flu) Winter Postcard

Invasive Pneumococcal Disease

Invasive Pneumococcal Disease is caused by the bacteria Streptococcus eningiti.

Types of 'invasive' pneumococcal disease (IPD) include:

  • meningitis (infection of the membranes around the brain)
  • pneumonia (infection of the lungs) and;
  • bacteraemia (infection of the blood)

For more information, please see the fact sheet below or contact the Communicable Disease Control Section on 02 6205 2155.

Invasive Pneumococcal Disease Fact Sheet (July 2014)

Listeria and Listeriosis

Listeriosis is an infection caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. Listeria is commonly found in soil, water, sewage and the intestinal tracts of animals. Listeriosis can be caused by contact with these sources or eating contaminated foods.

For more information, please see the fact sheet below or contact the Communicable Disease Control Section on 02 6205 2155.

Listeriosis Fact Sheet (October 2014)

Malaria

Malaria is a parasitic disease transmitted between humans by infected mosquitoes. Malaria is an infection of the red blood cells, causing recurring fever with sudden onset.

For more information, please see the fact sheet below or contact the Communicable Disease Control Section on 02 6205 2155.

Malaria Fact Sheet (July 2014)

Measles

Measles is a serious and highly contagious viral illness that is caused by the measles virus. Measles is not common in Australia because of high levels of immunisation.

For more information, please see the fact sheet below or contact the Communicable Disease Control Section on 02 6205 2155.

General Information

For general information on Measles see the factsheet below

Measles information sheet (September 2014)

Measles - Normal Human Immunoglobulin (NHIG)

Normal human immunoglobulin (NHIG) is antibodies purified from blood donors. NHIG contains antibodies that can provide protection against infectious diseases such as Measles. NHIG contains a sufficiently high concentration of antibody against measles to be able to prevent or ameliorate infection in susceptible individuals.

Measles: Normal Human Immunoglobulin (NHIG) factsheet (June 2013)

Measles: Information for Contacts

Measles contacts are people who shared the same air as someone while they were infectious with measles (for example, being in the same room as someone with measles). If the infection is transferred and takes hold in contacts, these people go on to develop measles symptoms in 7 to 18 days after sharing the same air.

The following fact sheet provides information to people who have been given treatment to prevent measles.

Measles - Information for Contacts (June 2013)

Meningococcal

Meningococcal disease is caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis (also known as meningococcus). Meningococcal bacteria can cause meningitis (infection of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord) and/or bacteraemia (infection of the blood). These are both severe infections that may lead to death.

Symptoms of meningococcal disease may include headache and neck stiffness, joint pain, nausea and vomiting, lethargy, high temperature and a rash. Severe disease may develop within a few hours.

Early treatment of meningococcal disease is essential and could be life-saving. People should seek urgent medical assistance if symptoms occur, or call Healthdirect on 1800 022 222 (24 hours) for advice.

For more information about meningococcal disease, please see the fact sheet below, contact your general practitioner or phone the Communicable Disease Control Section on 02 6205 2155.

Meningococcal Fact Sheet (July 2014)

Information for close contacts who require clearance antibiotics

If you have been in close contact with a person who has been diagnosed with meningococcal disease, you may require clearance antibiotics.

Meningococcal Information for close contacts (April 2013)

Rifampicin

Rifampicin is one type of antibiotic which is sometimes given to people who have been in close contact with a person who has meningococcal disease.

Rifampicin Fact Sheet (July 2014)

Ciprofloxacin

Ciprofloxacin is another antibiotic which is sometimes given to people who have been in close contact with a person who has a meningococcal infection.

Ciprofloxacin Fact Sheet (July 2014)

Mumps

Mumps is an infectious disease caused by the mumps virus. Though once a very common infection in children, high childhood immunisation rates in Australia have resulted in a dramatic reduction in rates of mumps infection and it is now not very common.

For more information, please see the fact sheet below or contact the Communicable Disease Control Section on 02 6205 2155.

Mumps Information Sheet (September 2014)

Norovirus Gastroenteritis

Norovirus is a very common viral infection that causes gastroenteritis. It is highly contagious and often causes outbreaks, particularly in aged care facilities, child care centres, schools and hospitals. Outbreaks can occur at any time of the year but are more common during winter and into spring.

For more information, please see the fact sheet below or contact the Communicable Disease Control Section on 02 6205 2155.

Norovirus Fact Sheet (August 2014)

Outbreak Management - Information for bus drivers

This information is to assist bus drivers who are involved in the transportation of sick people and/or their contacts during an outbreak of Influenza or Gastroenteritis.

Outbreak Management - Information for Bus Drivers (October 2014)

More information

Additional information on Influenza can be found on the Influenza information page.

Additional information on Gastroenteritis can be found on the Viral Gastroenteritis information page.

Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

Pertussis (also known as whooping cough) is a highly infectious respiratory illness caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. It can affect people at any age. Infants less than 6 months of age are most at risk of developing serious complications from the disease.

For more information, please see the fact sheet below or contact the Communicable Disease Control Section on 02 6205 2155.

Pertussis (Whooping Cough) (May 2014)

Psittacosis

Psittacosis (also known as ornithosis and parrot fever) is an uncommon human disease caused by the bacteria called Chlamydophila psittaci. It is usually transmitted to humans from birds, normally those in the parrot family (parrots, lorikeets, galahs, cockatoos, budgerigars etc).

Psittacosis Fact Sheet

Rabies and Australian Bat Lyssavirus

Rabies virus and the Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABL) are in the same virus family and can cause fatal disease in humans. Rabies is a disease that primarily affects animals that bite and scratch. ABL is a virus that is closely related to rabies, which rarely infects humans and is spread by bats.

For more information, please see the fact sheet below or contact the Communicable Disease Control Section on 02 6205 2155.

ACT Health issues health warning

Only vaccinated people who have been trained in the care of bats should handle them. Anyone who comes across an injured bat should contact the RSPCA on 6287 8113, or call the after hours wildlife rescue officer on 0413 495 031.

If you see an injured bat, do not touch it or pick it up.

ALL Australian bats have the potential to carry the Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABL).

If you are bitten, scratched or licked by a bat it is important to wash the wound or area thoroughly, for about five minutes, with soap and water. If saliva from a bat went into your eyes, nose or mouth flush well with water. Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

These reported injuries are usually occurring when people are attempting to free the bats from netting over fruit trees or when the animal has become trapped on fencing.

Fact sheet and media release

Rabies and Australian Bat Lyssavirus Infection Fact Sheet (December 2013).

Bats media release (10 September 2012)

Links

Rubella

Rubella, also known as german measles, is an infectious disease caused by the rubella virus. Rubella is not very common in Australia now due to high levels of immunisation.

Rubella information sheet (September 2014)

Salmonella

Salmonellosis is an infection caused by a bacterium called Salmonella. People become unwell after swallowing bacteria. Usually this happens after eating inadequately cooked food, by cross-contamination or person to person spread.

For more information, please see the fact sheet below or contact the Communicable Disease Control Section on 02 6205 2155.

For Health Consumers - Salmonellosis Fact Sheet (August 2014).

Scabies

Scabies is a highly transmissible skin infestation caused by a mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. These mites burrow into the skin where they live and reproduce. Eggs laid in the burrows hatch, crawl out onto the skin and make new burrows.

For more information, please see the fact sheet below or contact the Communicable Disease Control Section on 02 6205 2155.

Scabies Fact Sheet

Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) & Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS)

Escherichia coli (E. coli) are bacteria that can be found in the intestinal tract of humans and animals. Some types of E. coli, such as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) release a toxin that causes gastroenteritis. Around 5% of STEC cases may develop a sometimes fatal condition called Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS), characterised by kidney failure, bleeding and anaemia.

For more information, please see the fact sheet below or contact the Communicable Disease Control Section on 02 6205 2155.

Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) & Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS) Fact sheet

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is a curable disease caused by the bacteria (germ) Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB can damage a person's lungs or other parts of the body and cause serious illness. TB spreads through the air when a person with TB disease in the lungs or throat, coughs, sneezes or speaks, sending germs into the air.

For more information, please see the fact sheet below or contact the Communicable Disease Control Section on 02 6205 2155.

Tuberculosis Fact Sheet

Typhoid

Typhoid is caused by an infection with bacteria called Salmonella Typhi. In Australia, most typhoid infections are acquired overseas and occur after eating contaminated food or water in countries where typhoid is common.

For more information, please see the fact sheet below or contact the Communicable Disease Control Section on 02 6205 2155.

Typhoid Fever Fact Sheet (August 2014)

Viral Gastroenteritis

Viral gastroenteritis is a common infection of the stomach and bowel that results in vomiting and diarrhoea. It is usually a mild illness and can be caused by a number of different viruses including Norovirus and Rotavirus.

For more information, please see the fact sheet below or contact the Communicable Disease Control Section on 02 6205 2155.

Viral Gastroenteritis Fact Sheet (August 2014)