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Red Book

Communicable diseases


General practitioners (GPs) have an important role in the prevention and management of communicable diseases. This includes advice on prevention, immunisation, early detection and management.

The use of immunisation information systems1 such as the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR) and Vaccination Information and Vaccination Administration System (VIVAS) in Queensland helps raise immunisation rates. The available information in these databases helps to create recall-and-reminder systems and individual immunisation records within GP electronic medical records. An adult immunisation register is planned from September 2016.2

Updates on communicable diseases and notification requirements are available from the Department of Health.

Notification of particular infectious diseases to state public health units is mandatory (the law overrides all privacy regulations). This is almost completely automated by pathology laboratories, but for clinically diagnosed infections such as varicella and herpes zoster, the GP is required to notify the relevant authority.

  1. Community Preventive Services Task Force (USA). Recommendation for use of immunization information systems to increase vaccination rates. J Public Health Manag Pract 2015;21(3):249–52.
  2. Department of Health. Update: Expansion of Australia’s immunisation registers. Canberra: DoH, 2015 [Accessed 13 May 2016].
  3. Ward K, Chow MYK, King C, Leask J. Strategies to improve vaccination uptake in Australia, a systematic review of types and effectiveness. Aust N Z J Public Health 2012;36(4):369–77.
  4. Haynes K, Stone C. Predictors of incomplete immunisation in Victorian children. Aust N Z J Public Health 2004;28(1):72–79.
  5. Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine. HIV, viral hepatitis and STIs: A guide for primary care. Sydney: ASHM, 2014.
  6. Kong FY, Guy RJ, Hocking JS, et al. Australian general practitioner chlamydia testing rates among young people. Med J Aust 2011;194(5):249–52.
  7. Pavlin NL, Parker R, Fairley CK, Gunn JM, Hocking J. Take the sex out of STI screening! Views of young women on implementing chlamydia screening in general practice. BMC Infect Dis 2008;8:62.
  8. Preswell N, Barton D. Taking a sexual history. Aust Fam Physician 2000;29(5):533–39.
  9. Department of Health. Third national sexually transmissible infections strategy 2014–2017. Canberra: DoH, 2014 nsf/Content/ohp-bbvs-sti [Accessed 23 May 2016].
  10. Guy RJ, Ali H, Liu B, Hocking J, Donovan B, Kaldor J. Genital chlamydia infection in young people: A review of the evidence. Sydney: The Kirby Institute, 2011.
  11. The Kirby Institute. HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections in Australia: Annual surveillance report 2015. Sydney: The Kirby Institute, 2015.
  12. Goldenring J, Rosen D. Getting into adolescent heads: An essential update. Contemp Pediatrics 2004;21(64):64–90.
  13. Hocking J, Fairley C. Need for screening for genital chlamydia trachomatis infection in Australia. Aust N Z J Public Health 2003;27(1):80–81.
  14. Meyers D, Wolff T, Gregory K, Marion L. USPSTF recommendations for STI screening. Am Fam Physician 2008;77(6):819–24.
  15. Cook RL, Hutchison SL, Ostergaard L. Systematic review: Noninvasive testing for Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Ann Intern Med 2005;142(11):914–25.
  16. Templeton DJ, Read P, Varma R, Bourne C. Australian sexually transmissible infection and HIV testing guidelines for asymptomatic men who have sex with men 2014: A review of the evidence. Sex Health 2014;11(3):217–29.
  17. Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council. Clinical practice guidelines: Antenatal care – Module II. Canberra: AHMAC, 2014.
  18. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Routine antenatal assessment in the absence of pregnancy complications. East Melbourne, Vic: RANZCOG, 2016 html#obstetrics [Accessed 28 April 2016].
  19. Cheney K, Wray L. Chlamydia and associated factors in an under 20s antenatal population. Aust NZ J Obstet Gynaecol 2008;48(1):40–43.
  20. Chen MY, Fairley CK, De Guingand D, et al. Screening pregnant women for chlamydia: What are the predictors of infection? Sex Transm Infect 2009;85(1):31–35.
  21. Scholes D, Stergachis A, Heidrich FE, Andrilla H. Prevention of pelvic inflammatory disease by screening for cervical chlamydial infection. N Eng J Med 1996;334(21):1362–66.
  22. Queensland Health. Indigenous sexual health service report for Brisbane Southside. Brisbane: Communicable Disease Unit, 2004.
  23. Low N, McCarthy A, Macleod J, Salisbury C. Epidemiological, social, diagnostic and economic evaluation of population screening for genital chlamydial infection. Health Technol Assess 2007;11(8):1–165.
  24. Heal C, Jones B, Veitch C, Lamb S, Hodgens S. Screening for chlamydia in general practice. Aust Fam Physician 2002;31(8):779–82.
  25. Hayman N. Chlamydia PCR screening in an Indigenous health general practice clinic in Brisbane 2002–3. Brisbane, 2004.
  26. Uddin RN, Ryder N, McNulty AM, Wray L, Donovan B. Trichomonas vaginalis infection among women in a low prevalence setting. Sex Health 2011;8(1):65–68.
  27. The Kirby Institute. Bloodborne viral and sexually transmitted infections in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: Surveillance and evaluation report. Sydney: The Kirby Institute, 2014.
  28. Whiley DM, Garland SM, Harnett G, et al. Exploring ‘best practice’ for nucleic acid detection of Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Sex Health 2008;5(1):17–23.
  29. Whittington WL, Kent C, Kissinger P, Oh MK. Determinants of persistent and recurrent chlamydia trachomatis infection in young women: Results of a multicenter cohort study. Sex Transm Dis 2001;28(2):117–23.
  30. Orr DP, Johnston K, Brizendine E, Katz B. Subsequent sexually transmitted infection in urban adolescents and young adults. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2001;155(8):947–53.
  31. Guy R, Wand H, Franklin N, et al. Re-testing for chlamydia at sexual health services in Australia, 2004–08. Sex Health 2011;8(2):242–47.
  32. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines. MMWR 2006;55:38–40.
  33. Kwan B, Ryder N, Knight V, et al. Sensitivity of 20-minute voiding intervals in men testing for Chlamydia trachomatis. Sex Transm Dis 2012;39(5):405–06.
  34. Watson E, Templeton A, Russell I, Paavonen J. The accuracy and efficacy of screening tests for Chlamydia trachomatis: A systematic review. J Med Microbiol 2002;51(12):1021–31.
  35. Ferreira A, Young T, Mathews C, Zunza M, Low N. Strategies for partner notification for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2013;10:CD002843.
  36. Trelle S, Shang A, Nartey L, Cassel J, Low N. Improved effectiveness of partner notification for patients with sexually transmitted infections: Systematic review. BMJ 2007;334(7589):354.
  37. Burnet Insitute. Partner notification of sexually transmitted infections in New South Wales: An informed literature review. Melbourne: Centre for Population Health, 2010 NSW_STI_PN_PDF.pdf [Accessed 28 January 2016].
  38. Honey E, Augood C, Templeton A, et al. Cost effectiveness of screening for Chlamydia trachomatis: A review of published studies. Sex Transm Infect 2002;78(6):406–12.
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