Notifiable Disease Surveillance

Sunday 17th December 2017


Notifiable Disease Surveillance

Which diseases are notifiable in New Zealand?

Which notifiable diseases are reported on this website?

What recent changes have been made to the notifiable disease list?

Where can I find out more information about specific diseases?

What data is collected for notifiable diseases?

How is notifiable disease data collected and reported?

What quality processes are applied to the data collection and reporting?

Where can I find published reports that include notifiable disease data?

When is the next release of notifiable disease statistics due?

Why does the number of historical cases published in this year’s report differ compared to the numbers previously published?

Where can I get further information if I still have questions?

Which diseases are notifiable in New Zealand?
The current list of notifiable diseases can be found on the Ministry of Health website: http://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/notifiable-diseases

Case classifications (including laboratory and clinical criteria) for notifiable diseases and/or conditions are published in the Communicable Disease Control Manual.

Trigger points for the notification of a laboratory test result are detailed in the Direct Laboratory Notification of Communicable Diseases: National Guidelines.

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Which notifiable diseases are reported on this website?
Data are recorded on EpiSurv (a national web-based database) for all notifiable diseases in NZ, with the following exceptions: 

  • acquired immunodeficiency syndrome
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and other spongiform encephalopathies
  • lead absorption equal to or in excess of 0.48µmol/L 
  • poisoning arising from chemical contamination of the environment.

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What recent changes have been made to the notifiable disease list?
Recent changes to notification procedures that have affected the notifiable disease time series include 

a) changes to case classifications with the release of the latest edition of the Communicable Disease Control Manual by the Ministry of Health in May 2012

b) the following changes to the infectious notifiable disease schedule of the Health Act 1956:

  • Invasive pneumococcal disease became a notifiable disease on 17 October 2008.
  • Non-seasonal influenza (capable of being transmitted between human beings) became a notifiable disease on 29 April 2009
  • Enterobacter sakazakii was renamed as Cronobacter species on 13 December 2012
  • Rabies was extended to include other lyssaviruses on 13 December 2012
  • Q fever, previously reported under rickettsial diseases, became a notifiable disease on 13 December 2012
  • Verotoxin-producing or Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, previously notifiable as acute gastroenteritis, became a notifiable disease on 13 December 2012
  • Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) became a notifiable disease on 6 September 2013

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Where can I find out more information about specific diseases?
For a summary of notification procedures, design and collection methods, quality control and editing procedures, and information specific to each disease, see the latest edition of the Notifiable and Other Diseases in New Zealand Annual Report.

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What data is collected for notifiable diseases?
The data collected depends on the disease, but generally includes case demography, health outcome, basis of diagnosis, risk factors and some clinical management information. Copies of the case report forms for each disease can be found here.

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How is notifiable disease data collected and reported?
Under the Health Act 1956 and the Tuberculosis Act 1948, health professionals are required to inform their local Medical Officer of Health of any suspected or diagnosed notifiable disease. Since December 2007, laboratories have also been required to report notifiable diseases to their local Medical Officer of Health.

Notifiable disease data reported to the Medical Officer of Health at each public health unit (PHU) is entered via a secure web-based portal into the EpiSurv national database. The near real-time data is collated and analysed by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research Ltd (ESR) on behalf of the Ministry of Health. 

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What quality processes are applied to the data collection and reporting?
ESR runs a comprehensive quality programme for the collection and reporting of notifiable disease data. This includes publishing and maintaining standards and manuals for reporting of disease, validation on data entry, regular analysis and follow-up with PHU staff to ensure completeness of key surveillance data fields (e.g. date of birth, sex, and ethnicity) and an annual data quality report for monitoring changes in quality over time. Regular training is also provided to Public Health Unit staff who complete case report forms.

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Where can I find reports that include notifiable disease data?
Regular surveillance reports on notifiable diseases are produced by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research Ltd (ESR) for the Ministry of Health as part of a contract for scientific services. 

The latest published annual notifiable diseases data and reports can be found here.

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When is the next release of notifiable disease statistics due?
See the release schedule

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Why does the number of historical cases published in this year’s report differ compared to the numbers previously published?
As EpiSurv is a live database, data is extracted at a point in time that reflects the most accurate available data at that time. Every effort is made prior to publication to ensure that any anomalies and missing data are addressed. However, data extracted at a later date may differ to that published here or in other reports. If a report includes historical data this is updated each time the report is published.

For most diseases, the case classification and investigations are finalised within one month. However, for some notifiable diseases (e.g. tuberculosis or legionellosis) it may take longer to obtain complete laboratory tests or all relevant clinical details. If the classification for a case changes (e.g. from ‘probable’ to ‘not a case’) this case will excluded from future reports.

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Where can I get further information if I still have questions?
If you need further information about notifiable diseases please contact us here.

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Ph: +64 4 914 0700
Fax: +64 4 914 0770
Email: survqueries@esr.cri.nz