Prevention and control of communicable diseases

The main communicable disease risks in WA include:

  • transmission of vaccine preventable diseases
  • transmission of gastroenteritis
  • transmission of vector-borne diseases (e.g. Ross River virus)
  • sexually transmissible infections
  • blood-borne diseases

WA local governments have had a long standing role in helping to prevent and control the transmission of many of these communicable disease risks. 

What is the current situation?

Notifiable communicable diseases in WA fluctuate depending on a number of social, environmental factors and current public health actions. New infections of blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis B and C have remained low compared to other infections due to concerted public health actions such as vaccination and needle exchange programs.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and blood-borne viruses (BBVs) are the mostly frequently reported notifiable communicable infectious diseases in WA. This includes chlamydia, gonorrhoea, infectious syphilis, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.

Levels of vector-borne diseases such as Ross River virus depend on environmental factors (e.g. rainfall) and public health action (e.g. spraying mosquito breeding grounds).

Levels of influenza infections depend on uptake of influenza vaccines by the general community and how closely the vaccine stains match the circulating influenza strains.

Is there room for improvement?

Yes, communicable diseases will increase without the concerted efforts of the general public (e.g. being vaccinated, using hand hygiene and the promotion of safe sex practices) and continued public health actions by the State and local government authorities.

Things local government may already be doing to prevent and control communicable diseases

  • Administering and enforcing compliance with public health legislation, including inspecting food businesses to reduce food-borne disease risks, body piercing and tattoo parlours to reduce blood-borne virus risks, and swimming pools to reduce water-borne disease risks
  • Supporting the investigation and reporting back to WA Health on disease outbreaks
  • Responding to other communicable disease risks (e.g. Legionella pneumophila contamination)
  • Monitoring and controlling levels of vectors of vector-borne diseases
  • Working collaboratively with the Population Health services in conducting public health programs
  • Responding to community concerns about inappropriate needle and syringe disposal in the community
  • Supporting needle and syringe programs provided by community-based organisations or state government services
  • Displaying STI and BBV posters and brochures

More things local government can do to support the prevention and control of communicable diseases

  • Assist with promoting the “Could I have it" (external website) or “Get the facts” (external website) campaign messages on your council website and other communications to increase awareness of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and Blood Borne Viruses (BBVs) 
  • Provide information resources and posters in council owned facilities to promote campaign messages
  • Support local government employed youth workers to be trained in peer-based sexual health education to provide community-based sexual health education to young people
  • Provide accessible condom vending machines
  • Provide used needle and syringe disposal facilities

Further information

For further advice contact the Communicable Disease Control services (external site) for the relevant Health Service Provider. Alternatively, email the Communicable Disease Control Directorate ISDC@health.wa.gov.au 

Produced by

Communicable Disease Control Directorate