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What do we know about communicable diseases among Indigenous people?

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What are communicable diseases?

Communicable diseases are diseases that are passed from person to person either by direct contact with an infected person or indirectly, such as through contaminated (dirty/unclean) food or water. Another example of indirect transmission is when the disease is spread through the air, such as when an infected person coughs or sneezes and another person breathes in the air that contains the germ. Communicable diseases can be caused by:

Improvements to personal and environmental cleanliness, and the introduction of new immunisations (vaccines), have greatly reduced the number of people who catch some communicable diseases [2].

If a person contracts (catches/develops) certain communicable diseases (like tuberculosis), the disease must be ‘notified'; this means that the information is collected by health authorities. Unfortunately, Indigenous status is often not reported in notifications. Only WA, SA, and the NT reliably identify Indigenous status in the notification of communicable diseases [3].

What is known about communicable diseases in the Indigenous population?

The communicable diseases that are most important to the health of Indigenous people include:

Information about most of these communicable diseases, including how common they are in the Indigenous population, follows:

Tuberculosis

Hepatitis

Chlamydia and gonorrhoea

HIV/AIDS

Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib)

Invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD)

Meningococcal disease

Skin infections and infestations

References

  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2004) Australia's health 2004: the ninth biennial health report of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2010) Australia's health 2010: the twelfth biennial report of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2008) The health and welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples 2008. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics and Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  4. Burns J, Burrow S, Genovese E, Pumphrey M, Sims E, Thomson N (2003) Other communicable diseases. In: Thomson N, ed. The health of Indigenous Australians. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press: 397-441
  5. McIntyre P (2003) Pneumococcal disease. In: Thomson N, ed. The health of Indigenous Australians. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press: 384-396
  6. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (2009) Tuberculosis (TB): detailed explanation of TB. Retrieved 6 March 2009 from http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/tuberculosis/Understanding/WhatIsTB/Pages/detailed.aspx
  7. Roche P, Bastian I, Krause V (2007) Tuberculosis notifications in Australia, 2005. Communicable Diseases Intelligence; 31(1): 71-80
  8. Roche PW, Krause V, Konstantinos A, Bastian I, Antic R, Brown L, Christensen A, Gebbie S, Hurwitz M, Misrachi A, Waring J (2008) Tuberculosis notifications in Australia, 2006. Communicable Diseases Intelligence; 32(1): 1-11
  9. Barry C, Konstantinos A, National Tuberculosis Advisory Committee (2009) Tuberculosis notifications in Australia, 2007. Communicable Diseases Intelligence; 33(3): 1-12
  10. Barry C, Waring J, Stapledon R, Konstantinos A (2012) Tuberculosis notifications in Australia, 2008 and 2009. Communicable Diseases Intelligence; 36(1): 82-94
  11. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2009) Experimental estimates and projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians: Projected population, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, Australia, states and territories, 2006-2021 series [data cube]. Retrieved 8 September 2009 from http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/subscriber.nsf/log?openagent&32380ds002_2006.srd&3238.0&Data%20Cubes&E79A5308D989173FCA25762A001CE1C3&0&1991%20to%202021&08.09.2009&Latest
  12. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2007) Australian demographic statistics, June quarter 2007. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics
  13. Hepatitis Australia (2010) About hepatitis. Retrieved 18 November 2011 from http://www.hepatitisaustralia.com/about-hepatitis
  14. The Kirby Institute (2012) HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections in Australia: annual surveillance report 2012. Sydney: University of New South Wales
  15. The Kirby Institute (2011) HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections in Australia: annual surveillance report 2011. Sydney: University of New South Wales
  16. National Centre in HIV Epidemiology & Clinical Research (2010) HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections in Australia: annual surveillance report 2010. Sydney, NSW: National Centre in HIV Epidemiology & Clinical Research, University of New South Wales
  17. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2011) Australian demographic statistics, March quarter 2011. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics
  18. Gonorrhoea (2006) Family Planning Association of WA
  19. Bowden FJ, Tabrizi SN, Garland SM, Fairley CK (2002) Sexually transmitted infections: new diagnostic approaches and treatments. Medical Journal of Australia; 176(11): 551-557
  20. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2010) Australian demographic statistics: September quarter 2009. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics
  21. HIV & AIDS (2012) Western Australia Communicable Disease Control
  22. The Kirby Institute (2011) Bloodborne viral and sexually transmitted infections in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: surveillance and evaluation report 2011. Sydney: University of New South Wales
  23. The Kirby Institute (2012) Bloodborne viral and sexually transmitted infections in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: surveillance and evaluation report 2012. Sydney: University of New South Wales
  24. Horby P, Gilmour R, Wang H, McIntyre P (2003) Progress towards eliminating Hib in Australia: an evaluation of Haemophilus influenzae type b prevention in Australia, 1 July 1993 to 30 June 2000. Communicable Diseases Intelligence; 27(3): 324-341
  25. NNDSS Annual Report Writing Group (2012) Australia's notifiable diseases status, 2010: annual report of the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System. Communicable Diseases Intelligence; 36(1): 1-69
  26. Chiu C, Dey A, Wang H, Menzies R, Deeks S, Mahajan D, Macartney K, Brotherton J, Jardine A, Quinn H, Jelfs J, Booy R, Lawrence G, Jayasinghe S, Roberts A, Senanayake S, Wood N, McIntyre P (2010) Vaccine preventable diseases in Australia, 2005 to 2007. Canberra: Australian Department of Health and Ageing
  27. Barry C, Krause VL, Cook HM, Menzies RI (2012) Invasive pneumococcal disease in Australia 2007 and 2008. Communicable Diseases Intelligence; 36(2): E151-E165
  28. Massey PD, Kerry T, Osbourn M, Taylor K, Durrheim DN (2011) Invasive pneumococcal disease in New South Wales, Australia: reporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status improves epidemiology: surveillance report. Western Pacific Surveillance and Response; 2(3): 1-4
  29. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2011) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health performance framework 2010: detailed analyses. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  30. Menzies R, Turnour C, Chiu C, McIntyre P (2008) Vaccine preventable diseases and vaccination coverage in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Australia, 2003 to 2006. Canberra: Department of Health and Ageing
  31. Walton SF, DBeroukas D, Roberts-Thomson P, Currie BJ (2008) New insights into disease pathogenesis in crusted (Norwegian) scabies: the skin immune response in crusted scabies. British Journal of Dermatology; 158(6): 1247-1255
  32. Hengge UR, Currie BJ, J├Ąger G, Lupi O, Schwartz RA (2006) Scabies: a ubiquitous neglected skin disease. The Lancet Infectious Diseases; 6(12): 769-779
  33. Carapetis JR, Connors C, Yarmirr D, Krause V, Currie BJ (1997) Success of a scabies control program in an Australian Aboriginal community. Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal; 16(5): 494-499
 
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