Population Health
Public Health Unit

Communicable Diseases

Whooping Cough Image Communicable diseases are those diseases that can be transmitted from one person to another, or from animals or insects to humans. The NSW Public Health Act 2010 requires that certain medical conditions be notified to the Director-General, NSW Ministry of Health. The majority of notifiable diseases and conditions that require reporting are communicable diseases.

The Public Health Unit receives notifications of communicable diseases from medical practitioners, pathology laboratories, hospital Chief Executives, and primary schools and child care centres. Our communicable diseases team follows up notifications as per NSW Ministry of Health control guidelines.

Information for Health Professionals on testing and treatment

With increasing availability, nucleic acid testing (NAT) (also known by the proprietary name of PCR) should be considered the diagnostic method of choice  Nasopharyngeal aspirates or nasopharyngeal swabs with Dacron™ or rayon tipped swabs are optimal.

Antibiotics reduce the period of communicability and should be initiated as soon as possible. Please refer to page 14 of the pertussis control guidelines for management of household and other contacts.

Measles is characterised by fever, rash, cough, coryza, koplik spots and conjunctivitis. The rash commences on the face and progresses to the trunk and limbs. Typically fever is present at onset of rash.

Testing for Measles:

  • Patients should have a respiratory swab and urine sample collected for direct detection (immunofluorescence or PCR), and blood collected for serology. A dry sterile swab of the nasal passage combined with a similar swab from the back of the throat is the recommended specimen for detection of viral nucleic acid (PCR). Please mark as urgent and notify PHU on suspicion of measles.



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Page last updated: 08 May, 2015