CWM communicable diseases

Communicable Disease

Ensuring our communities have access to appropriate primary health care to prevent and minimise the impact of communicable disease is essential to the wellbeing of our communities.

Indicators: Number of people reporting a communicable disease
Data sources: SA Health, Communicable Disease Control Branch
Australian Childhood Immunisation Register
Strategies / Plans: Regional Public Health Plan 2015
Community Plan 2035: Objective 2.2 Dynamic and safe communities

 Number of people reporting communicable disease

The Communicable Disease Control Branch is part of the Public Health and Clinical Systems Division and aims to reduce the incidents of communicable and infectious diseases in South Australia. The Disease Surveillance and Investigation branch is responsible for the monitoring of incoming data to identify trends and clusters of disease, sporadic cases and outbreak investigations, reporting to the National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System and capacity for enhanced surveillance of food-borne disease (Oz FoodNet SA). Data was sourced from the Communicable Disease Control Branch, SA Health (32). The latest available data was for the financial year 2014-15.

Data analysis

In 2014-15 there were a very large number of reported cases of influenza in the City of Onkaparinga, particularly compared with the number of cases of other vaccine-preventable diseases such as varicella (chicken pox) and pertussis (whooping cough) (Figure 1). In the City of Onkaparinga varicella was the second highest reportable disease in 2014-15, followed by campylobacteriosis (gastroenteritis caused by bacterial infection), then salmonella (another gastroenteritis caused by bacterial infection) and lastly pertussis. 

Figure 1: Number of notifications of communicable diseases, City of Onkaparinga, 2008-09 to 2014-15

CWM Number of notifications of communicable diseases, City of Onkaparinga, 2008-09 to 2014-15
Source: Communicable Disease Control Branch (32)


Immunisation rate of children aged 5 years old

The rate of immunisation was determined by the number of children in the population fully immunised according to the definition as per the National Immunisation Program Schedule (33). The current definition of fully immunised for measuring coverage rates includes vaccination against: hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, haemophilus influenza type b, polio, measles, mumps and rubella, pneumococcal, varicella and meningococcal C.


Data was sourced from the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register which was administered by the Australian Government Department of Human Services (Medicare) (34). Immunisation data was available for the financial years 2011-12 to 2014-15, however, comparisons of immunisation rates need to be interpreted with care between each financial year, due to changes in the National Immunisation Program Schedule over these years.

In 2014-15 the rate of immunisation for children aged five years old in the City of Onkaparinga was 90.7 per cent, which was comparable to both South Australian (90.9 per cent) and Australian (92.2 per cent) immunisation rates (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Immunisation rates for children aged 5 years old, City of Onkaparinga, South Australia and Australia, 2011-12 to 2014-15

CWM Immunisation rates for children aged 5 years old, City of Onkaparinga, South Australia and Australia, 2011-12 to 2014-15
Source: Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (34)


Trend analysis

CWM communicable disease trend analysis

In 2014-15 the number of reported cases for four out of the five of the most common communicable diseases in the City of Onkaparinga had increased when compared with the number of reported cases in 2008-09 (Figure 1). In 2014-15 there were almost 13 times as many cases of influenza reported, compared with 2008-09. Similarly, reported cases of Salmonella increased by 65 per cent, Varicella increased by 60 per cent and Campylobacteriosis increased by 2.4 per cent. However, the number of reported cases of Pertussis actually decreased by more than 79 per cent in 2014-15 compared with 2008-09.

In the City of Onkaparinga there has been a 5.4 per cent increase in the immunisation rate of children aged five between 2011-12 and 2014-15 (Figure 2). This increase in immunisation rates was also observed for South Australia and Australia, however, both of these increases were not as great as that observed for the City of Onkaparinga. Between 2011-12 and 2014-15, the immunisation rates for South Australia increased by 3.7 per cent, and 2.5 per cent for Australia.

Policy implications

The substantial increase in influenza cases may be attributed to an increase in the number of influenza tests requested by General Practioners, as well as the increased sensitivity of the test to the influenza virus. In addition, there has been an increase in the surveillance and data collection of influenza, resulting in more cases being reported. Anecdotal evidence shows that there has been an increase in the uptake of the influenza vaccine within the community, however, there has also been an increase in the amount of private providers of the influenza vaccine (such as chemists). As such, it is difficult to know the exact number of influenza vaccines provided within our community.

The City of Onkaparinga’s Environmental Health team continues to regulate activities and educate business at risk of spreading communicable diseases including food businesses (Salmonella and Campylobacter), high risk manufactured water systems (Legionella), public swimming pools (Cryptosporidiosis) and skin penetration businesses (Hepatitis C and related blood-borne diseases).

The City of Onkaparinga will also continue to provide immunisation services in accordance with section 38 of the South Australian Public Health Act 2011.



This indicator is linked to other strategies, plans and targets outlined below:

Government of South Australia South Australia’s Strategic Plan Targets: 78. Healthy South Australians: increase the healthy life expectancy of South Australians.
79. Aboriginal healthy life expectancy: increase the average healthy life expectancy of Aboriginal South Australians.  
Other State Strategies • State Public Health Plan
National Strategies: • National Framework for Communicable Disease Control
• National Immunisation Strategy 2013-18