BACKGROUND: Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a major threat to Australia given the distribution of competent vectors, and the large number of travellers returning from endemic regions. We describe current knowledge of CHIKV importations into Australia, and quantify reported viraemic cases, with the aim of facilitating the formulation of public health policy and ensuring maintenance of blood safety.
METHODS: Cases reported to the National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System (NNDSS) from 2002 to 2012 were analysed by place, month of acquisition, and place of residence. Rates of chikungunya importation were estimated based on reported cases and on the numbers of short-term movements.
RESULTS: Between 2002 and 2012, there were 168 cases of chikungunya virus (CHIKV) imported into Australia. Victoria and New South Wales had the largest number of notifications. The main sources were Indonesia, India and Malaysia. The number of cases increased from 2008 to reach a peak in 2010 (n=64; 40%). Although Indonesia accounted for the majority of CHIKV notifications in Australia, travel from India had the highest CHIKV importation rate (number of imported cases per 100,000 travellers).
CONCLUSIONS: The Australian population is increasingly at risk from CHIKV. Arrivals from endemic countries have increased concurrently with vector incursions via imported goods, as well as via local movement from the Torres Strait to North Queensland ports. An outbreak of CHIKV could have a significant impact on health, the safety of the blood supply and on tourism. Case and vector surveillance as well as population health responses are crucial for minimising any potential impact of CHIKV establishment in Australia.
|Journal||Communicable diseases intelligence quarterly report|
|Publication status||Published or Issued - 1 Jun 2013|
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