For more information on communicable diseases, please see the fact sheets below or contact the Communicable Disease Control Section on 02 6205 2155.
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).
Anthrax Fact Sheet
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.
Campylobacter Fact Sheet
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.
Chickenpox Fact Sheet (May 2015)
Cryptosporidiosis is an infection caused by a parasite called Cryptosporidium.
Cryptosporidiosis fact sheet
Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)
Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is a serious disease caused by the Ebola virus. There are several strains of the virus. EVD was previously called Ebola haemorrhagic fever.
Ebola Virus Disease (June 2016)
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.
Gonorrhoea Fact Sheet (April 2018)
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 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.
Hepatitis A Fact Sheet (October 2014)
Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus.
Hepatitis B Fact Sheet (October 2017)
Hepatitis C is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus.
Hepatitis C Fact Sheet (October 2017)
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.
Hepatitis E Fact Sheet (October 2015)
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.
Influenza (Flu) Recommendations for use of annual seasonal influenza vaccine
Influenza (Flu) Fact Sheet
Influenza (Flu) Winter Poster
Why get the influenza Vaccine?
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 against the flu?
The Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th Edition recommends annual seasonal influenza vaccination for the following people:
Vaccination is recommended and FUNDED under the National Immunisation Program for the following groups of people;
Children aged 6 months to under 5 years
65 years of age and over,
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children 6 months to 5 years of age and those 15 years and over,
pregnant women and
people from six months of age with underlying medical conditions which predispose them to the risk of complications from influenza.
General practices and child health clinics (for children less than five years of age) have supplies of funded vaccine for the above groups of people. General Practice may charge a consultation fee.
Vaccination is recommended but NOT FUNDED under the National Immunisation Program for the following groups*:
All contacts of persons at high risk of influenza morbidity to protect them from the disease, such as;
All health care workers,
Staff of nursing homes and long term residential facilities and
Household members of high risk individuals,
Any person who wishes to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill with influenza.
- Persons who provide essential community services to minimise disruption of essential activities during an influenza outbreak.
* Persons in these groups may be able to access vaccine through workplace vaccination programs.
* Alternatively, influenza vaccine can be purchased via private prescription and administered by General Practice.
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)
Invasive Pneumococcal Disease Fact Sheet (September 2015)
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.
Listeriosis Fact Sheet (October 2014)
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.
Malaria Fact Sheet (September 2015)
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.
Measles information sheet (August 2018)
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 (October 2015)
Meningococcal disease is caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis (also known as meningococcus). Meningococcalbacteria 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 (January 2018)
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 (October 2015)
Outbreak Management - Information for Bus Drivers
This information is to assist bus drivers who are involved in the transportation of infectious or potentially infectious people during an outbreak.
Outbreak Management - Information for Bus Drivers
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 (September 2015)
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 (August 2018)
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.
Mumps Information Sheet (October 2015)
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.
Norovirus Fact Sheet (October 2015)
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.
Pertussis (Whooping Cough) (August 2018)
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.
Rabies and Australian Bat Lyssavirus Infection Fact sheet
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 (October 2015)
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 Health Consumers - Salmonellosis Fact Sheet (July 2015)
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.
Scabies Fact Sheet
Sexual Health Fact Sheets
For more information on Sexually Transmitted Infections, please see Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) fact sheets.
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.
Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) & Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS) Fact sheet
Shigellosis (Shigella infection)
Shigellosis is an infection caused by a bacterium called Shigella.
For more information, please see the fact sheet below or contact the Communicable Disease Control Section on 02 6205 2155.
Shigellosis Fact sheet (August 2018)
See this consumer information about Tamiflu.
Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) Fact Sheet (September 2017)
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.
Tuberculosis Fact Sheet
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.
Typhoid Fever Fact Sheet (November 2015)
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.
Viral Gastroenteritis Fact Sheet (June 2016)