Record levels of Campylobacter and Salmonella have been recorded in Australia, according to the annual surveillance report of notifiable diseases for 2016.

The data comes from a study published in the most recent edition of the Communicable Diseases Intelligence journal that also found E. coli, Listeria and Cryptosporidium infections had risen.

The role of disease surveillance includes identifying national trends, providing guidance for policy development and resource allocation and informing the response to outbreaks, according to the researchers.

In 2016, gastrointestinal diseases made up 15 percent of total reports for communicable diseases. Notified cases increased by 10 percent to 49,885 in 2016 compared to 2015.

Highest since record keeping began
Reports for campylobacteriosis and salmonellosis were at the highest levels since National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS) records began in 1991.

There were 24,164 cases of campylobacteriosis in 2016, making it the most frequently notified enteric infection. This was a 7 percent increase versus 2015. The highest rates in males was in those aged zero to 4 and 80 to 84 years old. For females, those aged 70 to 74 were most affected.

For Salmonella, more than 18,000 patients were recorded in 2016 compared to 17,001 in 2015. Salmonellosis was most frequent among the zero to 4 age group, which accounted for 23 percent of all reports.

E. coli and Listeria up
A total of 340 cases of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) were reported in 2016, up from 136 in 2015. Notifications were highest in the zero to 4 year old group with 40 infections reported. The most common serogroups were O157, O26, O113 and O111.

Fifteen patients with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) were recorded in 2016 compared to 18 in 2015. In 2016, 10 cases of HUS were positive for STEC.

Queensland and New South Wales each reported four notifications of HUS, Western Australia had three and Tasmania and Victoria both reported two. Cases were mainly among the zero to 4 years old age group. Eight patients were female and seven were male.

There were 84 cases of listeriosis in 2016, which is up from 70 in 2015. A total of 45 of the 84 patients were women.

New South Wales had the most reports with 34, followed by Victoria with 26 and Queensland with 13. Reports were highest in those aged 80 or older, who accounted for 31 percent of cases in 2016.

Cryptosporidium, Shigella and hepatitis stats
There were 5,419 cases of cryptosporidiosis in 2016, which represents a 33 percent increase on the number received for 2015. Reported cases were most frequent among males and females aged zero to 4 years old.

A total of 144 cases of hepatitis A were recorded in 2016, down from 179 in 2015. Infection is usually spread from person to person but can be foodborne or waterborne.

Most reported overseas travel and were considered to have been infected abroad. The top four destination countries were India, Pakistan, Iraq and Vanuatu. The 25 to 29 years old group accounted for the most notifications.

The number of hepatitis E infections was consistent with 42 in 2016 versus 41 in 2015. It was most frequently reported among people aged 20 to 34 years old and in men. In total, 29 were considered to have acquired infection overseas in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

There were 1,406 cases of shigellosis in 2016 compared to 1,037 in 2015. Shigella is transmitted either directly, such as men having sex with men, or indirectly through contaminated food or water. More than 500 people were infected overseas, mainly in Indonesia, India, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Notifications were highest in males aged 25 to 39. The highest rates in females were aged zero to 4 with males in the same age group reporting a similar number of infections.

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