Review of leptospirosis notifications in Queensland and Australia: January 1998-June 1999.

Abstract

The World Health Organization/Food and Agricultural Organization Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Leptospirosis, Western Pacific Region, accredited since 1958, is part of Queensland Health Scientific Services, which provide tertiary level support in epidemiology, surveillance, training and diagnosis for hospitals and pathology laboratories across the State. Databases for leptospirosis on a global, Australian and State-wide basis are maintained on site and support public health authorities in Australia, WHO and the International Leptospirosis Society. Queensland data collated and analysed from leptospirosis questionnaires, and a brief overview of Australian data based on questionnaire responses for notified cases from 1998 to June 1999, are summarised. The increase in leptospirosis notifications (77%) during 1998 possibly signalled greater awareness of the disease by clinicians. There was a significant increase in leptospirosis notifications for children and students and a high rate of hospitalisation of cases. An outbreak in North Queensland during the first half of 1999 resulted in 184 notifications with over 50% of cases hospitalised. Polymorphic presentation of the disease with severe pulmonary haemorrhage is associated in particular with the serovar australis. Serovar zanoni continues to be a major cause of severe clinical leptospirosis. Several cases were diagnosed in tourists. One of these cases presented with severe respiratory distress and required 14 days in hospital.